Elizabeth 1533-1603, queen of England and Ireland, was born at Greenwich on 7 Sept. 1533. She was the daughter of Henry VIII, by Anne Boleyn [qv.], whose secret marriage had been celebrated in the previous January. Three days after her birth (10 Sept.) she was baptised at the church of the Grey Friars at Greenwich by Stokesley, bishop of London, Cranmer, who had been consecrated archbishop of Canterbury that same year, standing as her godfather. The ritual was that of the Roman church, and the ceremonial was conducted with great pomp and magnificence. Margaret, lady Bryan, mother of the dissolute but gifted Sir Francis Bryan [qv.], was appointed governess to the young princess, as she had previously been to her sister, the Princess Mary. Lady Bryan proved herself to be a careful and affectionate guardian, who, under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty, consistently kept in view the interests of her ward. During the first two or three years of her infancy the princess was moved about from house to house. Sometimes she was at Greenwich, sometimes at Hatfield, sometimes at the Bishop of Winchester's palace at Chelsea. On Friday, 7 Jan. 1536, Queen Catherine died at Kimbolton. On Friday, 19 May, Queen Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Next day the king married Jane Seymour. On 1 July the parliament declared that the Lady Mary, daughter of the first queen, and the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the second, were equally illegitimate, and that the succession to the throne be now therefore determined to the issue of the marriage with Queen Jane. Less than six months before (Sunday, 9 Jan.), Henry, in the glee of his heart at Queen Catherine's death, clad all over in yellow, from top to toe, except the white feather he had in his bonnet, had sent for the little princess, who was conducted to mass with trumpets and other great triumphs, and after dinner, carrying her in his arms, he showed her first to one and then to another.
On 12 Oct. 1537 Queen Jane was delivered of a son, and on the 24th she died. There was a male heir to the throne at last. At his christening Elizabeth, then four years old, carried the chrysom, or baptismal robe, and in the procession that followed she passed out of the chapel hand in hand with her sister Mary, eighteen years her senior. Parliament might declare the two illegitimate, but it was for the king to say whether or not he would accept the sentence and give it his fiat. In the years that followed, Elizabeth and the young prince passed much of their childhood together; their education was very carefully looked to, and all authorities agree in saying that Elizabeth exhibited remarkable precocity, acquired without difficulty some knowledge of Latin, French, and Italian, and showed respectable proficiency in music. When Anne of Cleves came over to be married to the king in January 1540, that much injured lady was charmed with the grace and accomplishments of the little princess, and one of the earliest of her letters which has been preserved is addressed to Anne very shortly after the marriage; another eight years later, in the Record Office, shows that kindly and familiar intercourse was kept up between the two, probably till the death of the queen dowager in 1548. The marriage with Anne of Cleves [qv.] was dissolved on 9 July 1540. Henry married Catherine Howard on the 28th, and beheaded her on 13 Feb. 1543. On 12 July of that same year he married his last wife, Catherine Parr. The new queen was exactly the person best qualified to exercise a beneficial influence upon the princess, now in her tenth year, and there is reason to believe that the daughter learned to love and respect the stepmother, who, it is said, not only proved herself a staunch friend to the royal maiden, but, herself a woman of quite exceptional culture and literary taste, took a deep and intelligent interest in the education of Elizabeth and her brother. During this and the next few years we find her with her sister giving audience to the imperial ambassadors during this summer of 1543, and present at her father's last marriage in July, sometimes residing with the Princess Mary at Havering-atte-Bower, sometimes occupying apartments at Whitehall, sometimes at St. James's, sometimes with her brother at Hatfield, and it must have been during her visits there to the prince that Sir John Cheke, as tutor to the prince, from time to time gave her some instruction. Her own residence from 1544 and a year or two after appears to have been at one of Sir Antony Denny's houses at Cheshunt, and it was here and at Enfield that young William Grindal, the bishop's namesake, was her tutor, and at Enfield, probably, that he died in 1548 (Strype, Cheke, p. 9). This young man seems to have taught her more than any one else, though in her frequent visits to her brother she had the benefit of Cheke's advice and tuition, and once while at Amphill, whither the prince had gone for change of air, Leland, the great bibliophile, happening to come in to visit his old friend, Cheke asked the princess to address the other in Latin, which to Leland's surprise she did upon the spot, thereby extorting from the old scholar a tribute of admiration in four Latin verses, which Strype has duly preserved (p. 32). It was at Enfield, in presence of her brother, that she received the news of her father's death, 28 Jan. 1547.
Edward VI, when he came to the throne, had three uncles, brothers of his mother, Queen Jane: Sir Edward Seymour [qv.], earl of Hertford, and afterwards duke of Somerset, and protector; Sir Henry, who lived in obscurity, and died in 1578; and Sir Thomas. Sir Thomas, unless Bishop Latimer was a gratuitous defamer, was a man of profligate life, without a conscience, and without a heart, always needy, and insatiably ambitious. He was somewhat past thirty years of age, of no more than average abilities, but shapely and handsome. In the king's will, while the Earl of Hertford was appointed one of the sixteen executors to whom was entrusted the government of the kingdom during the minority of the young prince, Sir Thomas Seymour was named among the twelve who were to form a council to advise the executors when advice should be needed. Seymour was dissatisfied. On 10 Feb. the Earl of Hertford was created Duke of Somerset, and the younger brother Baron Seymour of Sudeley, with a liberal grant of lands to support his title. Next day he was made lord high admiral of England. The admiral was unmarried. Whom should he choose? There were three who were eligible—three, any one of whom might satisfy even his vaulting ambition—the Princess Mary, now just completing her thirty-second year, the Princess Elizabeth, in her fourteenth year, and the queen dowager, an old love, it might be about thirty-three or thirty-four years of age. Would either of the princesses have him? He was sure of the queen, and could always fall back upon her. He shrank from approaching the Princess Mary. On 26 Feb. he addressed a letter to Elizabeth, offering himself as her husband. On the 27th she wrote in reply, refusing her consent to such an alliance, and declaring that even when she shall have arrived at years of discretion she wishes to retain her liberty, without entering into any matrimonial engagement (Miss Strickland, p. 15). On 3 March it is said he was formally betrothed to the queen dowager, and shortly after this the two were married. The queen was living at Chelsea; the young princess made her home with her stepmother. Soon there came rumours that Seymour had availed himself of his position to indulge in familiarities with the princess which would have been unseemly towards a child of six, and were wholly inexcusable towards a young lady whom he had actually offered to make his wife a few weeks before. The queen remonstrated, and finally the princess removed her household and set up her establishment at Hatfield. On 7 Sept. 1548 the queen died, after giving birth to a daughter a week before. She was no sooner buried than her worthless husband began again his advances to the princess. Elizabeth had a hard game to play; it needed all the caution and craft of a practised diplomatist. She stood alone now. Her suitor was an utterly mercenary and unscrupulous man, who was trying to supersede his own brother and gain for himself something like the supreme power in the state. Elizabeth was the personage upon whom all eyes were fixed. Would Seymour win her? On 16 Jan. 1549 the protector ordered the arrest of his brother on a charge of high treason, and committed him to the Tower. But as the princess had been named only too frequently of late, and had been in some way implicated in the doings of her suitor, the principal persons of her household were arrested also, and she herself was kept under surveillance, and, though at Hatfield, she was treated to some extent as a prisoner under restraint. Then followed examinations and confessions on the part of her servants in the Tower—hearsay stories, backstairs gossip, and all the vulgar tattle of waiting-maids and lackeys. Then the princess herself was questioned. There was nothing to be got from her that did not tend to weaken confidence in the so-called evidence that had been carefully compiled. If the protector had ever any design upon the life of Elizabeth, it may be that the love which her brother bore her saved her from danger. Seymour was brought to the block on 20 March 1549. When they told Elizabeth she did not betray emotion. This day died a man with much wit and very little judgment, she said, and passed on, to the wonder of those who were there to watch and listen and report upon her words and looks and manner.
During the year that followed Elizabeth, living sometimes at Cheshunt, sometimes at Hatfield, suffered much from ill-health. She passed her time of retirement in pursuing her studies. Roger Ascham was her tutor then, and Lady Tyrwhitt, her governess, was not unworthy of the title she had gained, a woman of learning and taste, accomplished, wise, and religious in that age of learned ladies. Ascham's account of her studies during this year is somewhat droll: She had read ‘almost the whole of Cicero and a great part of Livy,’ says the pedagogue, but ‘with me,’ he adds. Not a line of the poets from anything that appears. ‘Select orations of Isocrates and the tragedies of Sophocles’ were her Greek pabulum. She had even dipped into patristic learning, but here she had been restricted to extracts from St. Cyprian. They who know Ascham's ‘Scolemaster’ know what his method was, and will understand the significance of those two words ‘with me;’ and they who know St. Cyprian's writings will wonder how the royal maiden could have deserved to have that christian father's work, ‘De Disciplina Virginum,’ inflicted upon her. A letter which she wrote to her brother during this year has been preserved, in which she rashly ventured to quote ‘Orace;’ unfortunately the line happens to be one of the proverbs of Publius Syrus, and probably culled, according to the fashion of the day, from some commonplace book. In the spring of 1551 she appeared again in public, and twice during the month of March she rode in state through the streets of London, gladdening the hearts of the citizens by the splendour of her pageantry. On 11 Oct. the Duke of Somerset was arrested and thrown into the Tower. On 22 Jan. 1552 he was beheaded. Again Elizabeth's name is mentioned, and it is said that attempts had been made to induce her to use her influence on one side or the other, but she held herself aloof from both factions. John Dudley, now duke of Northumberland, had stepped into the place of peril and power which Somerset had filled for five years. The health of the young king was declining. Elizabeth tried hard to visit her brother as he lay dying, and when the end came she found herself, equally with her elder sister, struck out of the succession to the throne so far as her brother's will and Northumberland's schemes could effect that object. Edward died at Greenwich on the evening of 6 July 1553. Elizabeth was at Hatfield, Mary was at Hunsdon, preparing to leave for London. That same night a messenger, slipping through the doubly guarded gates of the palace, met Mary at Hoddesdon. Mary, with the prompt decision of her race, mounted her horse, and before the morning broke she was beyond the reach of pursuit, safe under the guard of her loyal adherents, and proclaiming herself queen from Kenninghall, the castle of the Howards. Meanwhile commissioners arrived from the Duke of Northumberland to Elizabeth at Hatfield, announcing that Lady Jane Grey had succeeded to the throne, and summoning Elizabeth to court. She pleaded illness; she was unfit for the journey; she could not travel. The Duke of Northumberland and his party had enough upon their hands already; they were content to leave the princess where she was. On 10 July the Lady Jane was proclaimed queen, and made her royal entry into the Tower. On the 13th Northumberland advanced in force against Mary, but soon had to retreat in despair. On the 20th Mary was proclaimed at St. Paul's Cross amid tumultuous rejoicings, and that same day the Lady Jane was stripped of the ensigns of royalty and allowed to retire to Sion House, and Northumberland was thrown into the Tower. On the 29th Elizabeth came riding into London with a huge train, and took up her residence at Somerset House. Next day she passed through Aldgate to meet her sister, and when on 3 Aug. (Wriothesley) the queen made her triumphal entry into the city Elizabeth rode by her side, receiving her full share of the joyful acclamations of the populace. During the next few weeks she seems to have continued residing at Somerset House, though in frequent attendance on Mary. Everywhere and among all classes there was feverish excitement, political and religious. On the 8th Edward VI was buried with some pomp at Westminster. On the 22nd Northumberland was beheaded. On the 24th the old ritual was restored, and the mass sung at St. Paul's and elsewhere. But in London the feeling in favour of the gospellers was very strong, and there was much dissatisfaction at the bringing in of the old order, and especially at the restoration of Bonner to his bishopric. There is a story that Elizabeth for a while inclined to side with the protestant party, and it is said that she actually refused to attend mass at the Queen's Chapel. If it was so, it is at least strange that not a hint of this has reached us except in the letters of Renaud and Noailles. Be it as it may, she certainly appeared at mass on 8 Sept., and on the 30th, when the queen rode from the Tower through the city to her coronation, the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Anne of Cleves followed her closely ‘in another red chariot covered with cloth of silver.’ She continued to attend at court. There her position was extremely dangerous; her very legitimacy was almost openly questioned, and when the Duchess of Suffolk was allowed to take precedence of her, as daughter of Mary, sister of Henry VIII, Elizabeth resented the affront and kept her chamber. All kinds of vulgar and mean cabals were made to bring her into discredit, and Paget presumed to wait upon her to inform her of a story that Noailles, the French ambassador, had actually been admitted to private conferences at night in her chamber. The slander received scarce a moment's credence; it seems to have been invented by Renaud, the emperor's ambassador, without the least shadow of foundation in fact.
The next danger was far more serious. Edward Courtenay [q.v.], son of Henry, earl of Devonshire, was of the blood royal, and had been a prisoner in the Tower for nearly fifteen years when Mary came to the throne. He was handsome, and apparently of taking manners, but he had no sooner been released from the Tower on 3 Aug. 1553 than he gave himself up to a life of the wildest dissipation. The queen treated him with marked favour, but he soon found he had no chance of winning her hand. Then he turned to Elizabeth. The vulgar roué was a puppet in the hands of very cunning plotters. Sir Thomas Wyatt had his plan marked out with clearness. He and his fellow-conspirators would effect a rising, the catholic party should be mastered, Courtenay should marry Elizabeth, and she should be set upon the throne. Would she make common cause with the party of revolt? She behaved with extraordinary wisdom and caution. She would do nothing, say nothing, write nothing which could compromise herself. If they succeeded they could not do without her, if they failed she would not be implicated. The mad and stupid outbreak collapsed, and sickening butchery followed. Gardiner and Renaud thought that nothing had been gained while Elizabeth was allowed to live. The wretched leaders of the miserable rebellion were spared from day to day in the hope of extorting from them some evidence of declaration of Elizabeth's complicity, but there was none forthcoming. Meanwhile she was confined to her apartments in Whitehall, her fate trembling in the balance from time to time. At last on Sunday, 18 March, she was thrown into the Tower. The story of her arrest and her entry into the grim old fortress has been told by Mr. Froude in his very best manner. On 11 April Wyatt met his fate like a man, and with his last words declared Elizabeth innocent of all knowledge of his intended rising. Nevertheless she was kept in the Tower, Gardiner insisting, in season and out of season, that she must needs be sacrificed. It was not so to be. On 19 May she was released from the one prison only to be removed to Woodstock, there to be kept under the custody of Sir Henry Bedingfield (1509?-1583) [q.v.], the same gentleman who had kept watch and ward over Queen Catherine of Arragon at Kimbolton seventeen years before. Sir Henry was a courtier and a gentleman, but he had to obey his stern mistress, and though Elizabeth was under surveillance, and her health suffered from her confinement and the irritation which her captivity occasioned, her daily life was made as tolerable as under the circumstances it could be, and she spent her time pursuing her favourite studies, and in all outward observances of religion she scrupulously conformed to the Roman ritual. So prudently did she conduct herself during this trying time that after six months of detention she was summoned once more to her sister's presence, and at the Christmas festival took her seat at the royal table, and was treated with marked courtesy by King Philip himself, while Mary showed her renewed signs of favour. The queen had hopes of issue now; she could afford to be gracious. While Elizabeth had been languishing at Woodstock Mary had been married on St. James's day (25 July) 1554, and now she persuaded herself that in due time an heir would be born to the throne. Philip was weary of England and his English wife, and on 4 Sept. 1555 he set sail from Dover, and turned his back upon the land and the people that he never ceased to hate (Wriothesley).
All through this horrible year a hideous persecution had been going on. On 7 Sept. Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer were brought up for trial at Oxford. On 16 Oct. the last two were burnt. Two days later Elizabeth, who during the last few months had been in frequent attendance at court, was allowed to leave London, and took her final departure for her favourite residence at Hatfield. The people crowded to see her. She at any rate, they thought, was not to blame for all the blood that had been shed. They cheered her to the echo as she passed. With her usual prudence she made no response or acknowledgment.
At Hatfield she again resumed her studies. Ascham returned there for a while and read Demosthenes with her. Castiglione gave her lessons in Italian, and Sir Thomas Pope exhibited costly pageants for her amusement, and ‘the play of Holofernes’ was acted before her, but somewhat coldly received. With Philip away, Mary death-stricken, and Gardiner dead, Elizabeth from this time had only to wait and be still. The next two years of her life were passed in comparative tranquillity. There were stupid attempts at rebellion, Courtenay once more figuring among the plotters (for he had not been thought dangerous enough to make it necessary to slay him when Wyatt and the rest suffered), the ghastly burnings grew fiercer and more frequent, there were famine and misery, proposals of marriage for the hand of the princess first by one then by another. On 18 March 1557 Philip came over to England once more (ib.), and Elizabeth seems to have visited her sister during his stay (Strickland, p. 92). A month before she had attended at Whitehall in great state, and in July Philip had departed. On 20 Jan. following Calais was lost, and the English were at last driven out of France, and on that same day the last of Queen Mary's parliaments assembled. There was for a while a flash of indignation which cannot be called loyalty or patriotism. The persecution still went on fiercely and remorselessly, and the people sullenly submitted to what seemed the inevitable. The one hope for a land that God had ceased to guard was the death of the reigning sovereign.
On 17 Nov. 1558, in the grey twilight before sunrise, Mary died. Parliament was sitting. At eight in the morning both houses, as if in expectation of the event, were assembled. A message was sent down from the peers to the lower house requiring the immediate attendance of the commons. Heath, archbishop of York, as chancellor, announced that ‘our late sovereign lady Queen Mary’ had passed away, and that the lords had determined to proclaim the Lady Elizabeth queen ‘without further tract of time.’ The thing was done with all due form and ceremony, Sir William Cecil having already prepared the draft of the proclamation which was usual on such occasions. At last it had come!
The nation breathed once more the breath of hope and life. But the outlook and the retrospect as men looked back upon the last six years were enough to fill them with dismay. Death had been striding through the land as if to show he was king indeed. Of late the persecution had fallen upon the lowly, but in the upper ranks what havoc there had been! Cardinal Pole died a few hours after Queen Mary. Nine bishoprics were vacant. Within a month of Mary's decease three more bishops were dead. There was only one duke in England now¾Thomas Howard of Norfolk, he too doomed to perish on the block before the new reign was half over. In Jan. 1552 Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset; in August 1553 John Dudley, duke of Northumberland; in February 1554 Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk, had severally perished upon the scaffold. There was not a woman in England more lonely than Queen Elizabeth when she ascended the throne. Her very enemies had died. Gardiner was dead, the Emperor Charles V had died in September, and now Cardinal Pole lay waiting for his obsequies. Her friends and old suitors had died off; Catherine Parr and Anne of Cleves, Seymour and Courtenay, and within six months of her accession Henry II of France and Pope Paul IV, had gone also. Her nearest blood relation was Henry Carey, afterwards Lord Hunsdon, the only child of her mother's sister. The next heir to the throne was Mary Stuart, nine years her junior, now queen of Scotland, and soon to be queen-consort of France. England had just suffered the deepest humiliation which she had known for centuries. She no longer possessed a yard of land upon the continent; the finances of the country were in a condition which might almost be described as desperate. War and famine and pestilence had brought the people to the lowest point of shame and despondency. Meanwhile men seemed absorbed by their religious differences, though for the most part they knew not what they believed. The hideous facts of the Marian persecution, fresh in the memory of the townsmen, wrung from them deep curses against the pope and his supporters; but the wild plunder of the churches and the furious rapacity of the destroyers in King Edward's days were not yet forgotten, nor likely to be for a while.
Elizabeth had completed her twenty-fifth year. Never had royal maiden more need of wisdom, caution, decision, and courage. Never had one in her station received a severer schooling in the arts of dissimulation, reticence, and self-control. Of the domestic affections she had scarcely had experience from her childhood. In her third year her mother had been slain on infamous charges, her father had been always a name of terror, her sister had watched her with the dark suspicion of dislike. Her brother is said to have had some love for her, but in such matters a very little evidence often goes a very long way. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to show that Elizabeth had a heart, nothing to indicate that she ever for a moment knew the thrill of sentiment, the storms of passion, or the throbs of tenderness. The key to much that is perplexing in her conduct as queen may be found in a careful study of her experience and her discipline as princess and presumptive heir to the throne.
Elizabeth was at Hatfield when her sister died. On 20 Nov. the council met there for the first time; Sir William Cecil was at once appointed chief secretary; his brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Bacon, his kinsman, Sir Thomas Parry, and Ambrose Carr, who probably was also akin to him (for he too was a Stamford man), were made members of the council; so too were Francis Russell, earl of Bedford, whose father had been lord-admiral in Queen Mary's time, and William, marquis of Northampton, brother of Queen Catherine Parr, and others, whose sentiments favoured the reformers. The queen's utterances on this memorable day have been preserved; they may be authentic, and they may have been strictly her own. The gift of speech she always had, and she always rose to an occasion. On the 23rd the queen commenced her progress to London. On the way the bishops met her, and were permitted to kiss hands, all except Bonner¾from him she turned away as if there had been blood upon his lips. On the 28th she took possession of the Tower; on 5 Dec. she removed to Somerset House, where she attended the sittings of her council from day to day. Meanwhile the two religious parties were watching her every movement, look, and word with feverish excitement. On the 14th Queen Mary was buried at Westminster according to the Roman ritual. Ten days later the obsequies of Charles V were celebrated after the same fashion, and on the 28th again Christopherson, the late bishop of Chichester, was buried with much ceremonial at Christ Church, five of the bishops offering and two of them singing the mass. On the other hand, on 1 Jan., being Sunday, the English litany was read in the London churches in accordance with a royal proclamation, and the epistle and gospel were read in English at mass by order of the lord mayor. Which side was going to win? The bishops were strangely unanimous, but they overestimated their strength. The oath of allegiance contained one clause which had been handed down from Elizabeth's father; it spoke of the sovereign as supreme head of the church. That clause was hateful to a catholic. Heath, the archbishop of York, protested, the other bishops followed him to a man. But the coronation was fixed for 15 Jan. All, it seemed, would refuse to place the crown upon the queen's head. The ceremony was, however, performed by Owen Oglethorpe [q.v.], bishop of Carlisle. The mass was sung as of old. The gospel was read in Latin and English; it was significant¾a sign of compromise. (Cf. ‘The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth,’ by C. G. Bayne, Engl. Hist. Rev. Oct. 1907.)
On the 25th the queen opened parliament; again high mass was celebrated at the altar at Westminster, but after it was over Dr. Cox, an exile for religion in Queen Mary's reign, preached the sermon. The parliament had enough upon its hands. On 10 Feb. it was ordered that Mr. Speaker with all the privy council and thirty members of the House of Commons should attend upon the queen to petition her majesty touching her marriage. Her answer is well known. She had already refused the hand of Philip II, and now she declared, what she had declared more than once before, that she had no inclination for marriage, and she ended her speech with the memorable words: ‘This shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, died a virgin’ (D'Ewes, p. 46). The faithful commons voted money lavishly, gave back to the queen all that Mary had surrendered to the religious orders which she had attempted to revive, confirmed her deposition of the recalcitrant bishops, voted that all the temporalities of vacant sees should be handed over to her during a vacancy; they showed her that she could depend upon them even to the utmost, that she was in fact, though not in name, an absolute sovereign. On 8 May parliament was dissolved, and on the 12th the English service was first said in the Queen's Chapel, four days before the date appointed by act of parliament for it to be used.
Meanwhile Cecil and the council had been exhibiting astonishing activity. Sir Thomas Gresham had been commissioned to negotiate a loan abroad. What money could be got was borrowed at home. Peace was concluded with France on 12 March, on terms far better than could have been expected, and if about the same time Mary Stuart thought proper to assume the royal arms of England, and to induce her puny boy husband to call himself king of France, Scotland, England, and Ireland, the fact would not be forgotten, though the act need not be noticed. On the last day of that same month of March the great controversy between the champions of the old faith and the new took place in Westminster Abbey. The result was by this time felt to be a foregone conclusion. The catholic bishops were sent to the Tower. On 15 May they were all called upon to take the oath of supremacy. All except Kitchin of Llandaff refused, the rest had time given them to reconsider their decision, and they availed themselves of the delay. The court was all astir with festivities from day to day, the queen showing herself in wonderful attire, dazzling her subjects with the splendour of her dresses and her jewellery; there were masques and pageants, and tiltings and plays and banquets; the queen in her progresses going from house to house received magnificent entertainment at the charge of the owners of the several mansions. On 5 Sept. the obsequies of Henry II of France, who had died in July, were celebrated with great pomp in St. Paul's, and the first three of the four bishops-elect, Parker of Canterbury, Scory of Hereford, and Barlow of Chichester, appeared in public in black gowns. Grindal of London, the fourth bishop-elect (Bonner had been deposed), being ill, was absent. Nevertheless, on 1 Nov., to the horror and dismay of the protestants, lighted tapers were seen in broad daylight in the royal chapel, and once more the crucifix in silver was set up upon the altar there. Of late there had come the emissaries of at least three suitors for the hand of the queen. Eric of Sweden, a dissipated young prince, had sent his brother to plead his cause. Adolphus, duke of Holstein, had come in person to urge his own suit. The archduke Charles was warmly supported by all the catholics in England, and not less warmly by Philip of Spain. Elizabeth amused herself with each and all of them, played off one against the other, and dressed up her chapel to give some colour of hope to the archduke, whom De Quadra clearly saw she never intended to marry. But the settlement of the religious difficulty was not to be delayed by freaks like these. On 17 Dec. the church of England was provided with an archbishop of Canterbury once more by the consecration of Matthew Parker at Lambeth. Four days later Edmund Grindal was consecrated bishop of London in the place of Bonner, Cox became bishop of Ely in the place of Thirlby, Sandys was made bishop of Worcester in the place of Pate, and Meyrick succeeded to the vacant see of Bangor, whose revenues were not worth the queen's keeping any longer in her hands. A month after this five more bishops were consecrated; but the wealthy sees of York, Winchester, and Durham had each to wait for another year. The necessities of the time forbade that their income should be lost to the royal exchequer, though their bishops were already deprived.
Thus ended the first year of Elizabeth's reign. It was the first year since the death of Henry VIII which had not been signalised by some serious rebellion, some ghastly massacre, or some national disaster. Already the horizon was clearing on all sides, a feeling of security was growing among all classes, except indeed among the turbulent minority in church and state, the politicians whose hopes lay in some change from the things that were to the things that might be. They had begun to feel that at last the queen was a veritable ruler, her council were her servants, she was no puppet in their hands. Her immense force of will, the masculine vigour of her intellect, her instinct of command, her very duplicity, her restlessness, her insatiable desire to be kept informed of everything that was going on, her pretence of omniscience, her resolve to initiate, or seem to initiate, every movement in church and state, at home and abroad, were each and all factors that had to be taken into account by her ministers, and had already displayed themselves too evidently to allow of their escaping the notice of her council. There was not one of these who did not tremble at her frown as they would have done if they had stood in her father's presence twenty years before. At home there was little or nothing to cause anxiety when the year 1560 opened; abroad Philip II was her ally, and half the young princes of Europe were seeking her hand; but while between Scotland and France there was still the semblance of cordiality, and at any rate community of interest, sentiment, and purpose, Elizabeth could not afford to remain quiet, or she thought she could not.
When James IV of Scotland was slain at Flodden, his son, James V, was a child just two years old. His mother was Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, and therefore sister of Henry VIII. James V died on 18 Dec. 1542, leaving behind him an only daughter, Mary Stuart. Her mother was the bright and gifted Mary of Lorraine, who after the Earl of Arran's desertion of Scotland in 1554 had become regent of the kingdom. Her daughter had been carried off to France in 1548, and been married to the dauphin. On 29 June 1559 the dauphin became king, and Mary Stuart queen-consort of France. The treaty of peace between France, England, and Scotland had been signed at Château Cambresis on 2 April 1559; next day a second treaty was signed between France and Spain. The peace marked an era in European history, though it is more than doubtful whether any one of the contending parties seriously intended to keep the engagements entered into, or felt the smallest confidence in the promises of the others. But France and Spain were united in one common sentiment at least, the desire to resist and beat back the spirit of the age. While Elizabeth read the signs of the times with more foresight and sagacity, she saw that society was fermenting with the reformers' leaven, and that in the contest that was coming the catholics would surely lose the day. Cautiously¾we might almost call it cunningly¾she took her side with the protestant party in England, Scotland, and France. Cecil was so much one with her in feeling and views, that it is hard to say whether she or he was the originator of all that was attempted; but Elizabeth was far more a creature of moods and caprice than her astute minister. She loved intrigue for its own sake; he resorted to it, and practised it with an end kept clearly before him. It was in July 1559 that Elizabeth seems to have given something like an engagement to support the protestant party in Scotland. In the next few months troops were sent and money in insufficient quantities; then a fleet under Admiral Winter arrived at the Firth of Forth in January 1560; then half-hearted warfare, no one venturing to make a decided move, lest the queen should disown his act. At last Cecil himself went to Scotland (May). On 6 July the treaty of Edinburgh was signed. What had been gained was not much: (1) Mary Stuart was to give up using the arms and title of queen of England; (2) the French were to quit Scotland; (3) the protestant party were to be delivered from the presence of the foreign auxiliaries, and left to fight their own battle; lastly, and this was perhaps the most important of all (Cecil at Edinburgh, 15 July, Cal. Scotland, i. 158; also Cal. Hatfield, I. No. 782), Philip II had been taught that Elizabeth could do without him, and could stand alone. Cecil was back again at court in July; in his absence he had lost favour. It seems the queen had a suspicion that he had taken too much upon himself, and that he might have made better terms. But everybody was plotting against him. And each little knot of politicians had its own card to play in the shape of a suitor for the hand of the queen. The Scotch were for pressing her to marry Arran now. She would have none of him, and as for the rest she kept her own counsel.
Ever since she came to the throne Elizabeth's most signal marks of favour were displayed towards Robert Dudley [q.v.], now master of the horse, a member of the privy council, and never absent from his royal mistress's side, although he had been married to Amy Robsart in King Edward's days, and his wife was living. The queen made no secret of her preference for the handsome young courtier. She even overacted the part of love-sick maiden, till the quidnuncs whispered and told infamous tales, and half Europe believed them. There was one man in England who put no faith in her only too demonstrative professions of affection, and that man was Robert Dudley himself. A month after Cecil's return Amy Robsart was found dead (8 Sept. 1560) at Cumnor. There was an inquest, and an attempt to implicate her husband in her unhappy death. The queen saw clearly enough that the attempt to fasten suspicion on Sir Robert was a mere court intrigue; she made no change in her conduct towards the favourite. The familiarities went on as before. One of the most important measures of 1560, and one in which the queen showed great interest, and gave remarkable proof of her versatility, was the reform of the currency and the calling in of the debased coinage of the last three reigns. As early as January 1559 this important reform had been mooted (Hatfield MSS. vol. i. Nos. 566, 567), but the scheme then suggested had fallen through. Now a well-considered plan was adopted and executed in a very masterly manner (see Cal. Dom. 1547-80, pp. 159-161; Froude, vol. vii. chap. vi.). It was during this year, too, that the abbey of Westminster was converted into a collegiate church. John Feckenham [q.v.], the last abbot, who had been appointed by Queen Mary, was deprived in 1559, and William Bill [q.v.], was installed dean, and instructed to draw up statutes for the new corporation. But the most notable event of the year was the death of Francis II, Mary Stuart's young husband, and the seizing of the reins of government in France by Catherine de' Medici. England was getting more content month by month, and for a year or two the royal suitors for the queen's hand kept from any serious advances. De Quadra had persuaded himself and Philip II that the queen meant to marry Dudley. It is probable that Elizabeth and he understood one another, and were amusing themselves with De Quadra, who took all that he saw or heard au grand sérieux. In August 1561 Mary Stuart, eluding the English fleet which had been ordered to watch her and prevent her landing, returned to Scotland, and the great troubles of her life began. In France there was civil war, in Spain persecution, in Scotland almost anarchy; in the Netherlands deep discontent, ready before long to burst into a flame. England was quiet and prosperous; Elizabeth living a gay and merry life, but always vigilant, alert, equal to any emergency, and every now and then startling even to terror such as presumed to take a course of their own. So, when the luckless Lady Catherine Grey ventured upon a clandestine marriage with the Earl of Hertford; or the Countess of Lennox dared to assert herself or to deal in curious arts; or Mary Stuart demanded to have her title to the succession acknowledged; or the pope actually went some way towards sending a nuncio to England to induce, if it might be so, the queen to send a representative to the council of Trent¾Lady Catherine, her husband, and the Countess of Lennox were sent to the Tower; Mary Stuart received a curt repulse; the nuncio was not permitted to cross the sea.
Meanwhile Elizabeth had been induced to meddle with the struggle that was going on in France. There the Calvinists and the catholics were at very bitter feud. The civil war was beginning. Condé, the leader of the Calvinists, implored the help of Elizabeth; he offered to surrender to her the towns of Havre and Dieppe as the price of her support and as pledges for the restoration of Calais. She promised, hesitated, delayed; finally, on 4 Oct., Sir Adrian Poynings with three thousand English troops took possession of Havre. Five hundred of these men tried to cut their way into Rouen, which Guise was besieging. A few succeeded, only to perish miserably for the most part, when on 26 Oct. Guise took the place by storm. Next month Dudley's brother, Ambrose, earl of Warwick [q.v.], took the command at Havre. Then followed the bloody battle of Dreux on 19 Dec., and the peace of Amboise on 25 March 1563. The civil war was at an end. But Elizabeth refused to surrender Havre. She could not bear to part with it, she could not bring herself to pay the price of keeping it, money she never could be persuaded to spend, and a war with France meant enormous cost. But Havre was surrendered at last on 27 July, only after the garrison had suffered frightfully from plague and famine; and Warwick brought back the remnant of his force to England, and with it the pestilence which spread far and wide through the land. There was the less excuse for the parsimony which Elizabeth showed at this juncture, for the parliament which assembled on 12 Jan. had again been liberal, and had voted one subsidy besides two fifteenths and tenths to replenish the exchequer. But one act of this parliament marked an epoch in the history of the reign, and another act of convocation was no less important in its bearing upon the ecclesiastical history of England. The first was the act for forcing the oath of supremacy upon a much larger class than had been compelled to take it heretofore, and visiting persistent refusal with the penalty of death as in cases of treason. The second was the promulgation of the Thirty-nine Articles as formulating the recognised doctrines of the English church. The latter measure concerned the clergy, the former was a sword of Damocles that was suspended over the heads of all classes of the laity, but it is to the credit of the queen that she was averse to putting it in action. The time had not come for using the awful power that this act placed in her hands. Once more during this parliament, and only a few days after it assembled, the faithful commons had presented a humble petition to Elizabeth ‘to take to yourself some honourable husband whom it shall please you to join unto in marriage.’ They were deeply in earnest this time, for the country had had a serious scare in the previous October, when the queen had been dangerously ill with the small-pox, and her life for some hours had seemed to be trembling in the balance. As before to this petition an evasive answer was returned. About this time the marriage of the Queen of Scots became a subject of debate among the politicians. Elizabeth suggested that her favourite Dudley should become Mary Stuart's husband. It ended by the marriage to Darnley on 29 July 1565. On the wearisome intrigues which had as their object the marriage of Elizabeth herself it is not worth while to dwell. In 1564 the famous visit to Cambridge took place, and it was on this occasion that Elizabeth made her Latin speech, which there is every reason to believe she delivered without any careful preparation. A month later Dudley at last received his patent of nobility, and on 29 Sept. was created Earl of Leicester, with the gift of the manor of Kenilworth. Was Cecil chancellor of Cambridge? Then Leicester should be chancellor of Oxford, and two years after Elizabeth had visited the one university she was received with the same pomp and magnificence at the other. It was during this visit that on 3 Sept. she listened to Edmund Campion and Richard Bristow disputing in the schools, few thinking then that the two would become hereafter the great champions of the catholic party. In Scotland, meanwhile, all was turbulence, violence, and misrule. Rizzio was murdered on 9 March with every circumstance of brutal ferocity, and on 19 June Mary Stuart brought forth a son, and there was an heir male to the throne at last. The parliament met again on 30 Sept. Again there was a petition from the lords that the queen would name her successor, and would consent to take to herself a husband, this time with more earnestness than ever (D'Ewes, p. 105). Elizabeth's answer was as it had always been, that she was averse to marriage in itself, and she would never marry if she could avoid it. But once more the archduke Charles made serious advances, and once more he was encouraged to proceed.
Meanwhile Sir Henry Sidney, Leicester's brother-in-law, had been eating his heart out in Ireland, forced to go there, and forced to stay against his wish and better judgment; and though the commons had again been bountiful, Elizabeth could by no means be persuaded to do the one thing needful, namely to supply men and money and supplies to the deputy, and thus enable him to bring Shaen O'Neil to his senses. She behaved in all this miserable business as meanly as a sovereign of a great nation could behave. She set herself stubbornly against her council even when they were unanimous. She put forth plans of her own, she wrote outrageous letters; and when at last Sidney's brilliant campaign had been carried through with complete success, and was followed in the summer of 1567 by the utter discomfiture of O'Neil, and by his savage murder in a characteristic Irish brawl and massacre, she grudgingly wrote to thank Sidney for his services, as if the acknowledgment had been wrung from her at the last moment. While Sidney was doing his work so well in Ireland, strange things were happening nearer home. On 2 Jan. 1567 parliament was dissolved. Next month the country was horrified by the news that Darnley, titular king of the Scots, had been barbarously and deliberately murdered, and that the Earl of Bothwell was believed to have been the instigator of the crime. Two months later it was known that Bothwell and Mary Stuart were living together at Dunbar; then that he had divorced his wife; then that the two had been married on 15 May; and then followed the news of the day at Carberry Hill, and on 17 June the imprisonment of ‘the mother of debate’ in the castle of Lochleven. Meanwhile across the Channel the civil war in France was raging, the catholics were carrying all before them, and in the Netherlands Alva was expected to supersede the regent Margaret. In August 1567 he entered Brussels, and some bloody work began. When the year 1568 opened there were clouds upon the horizon; before it closed Mary Stuart was a captive in England, war with Spain seemed imminent, the English ambassador had been expelled from Spain, the Spanish treasure-ships had been seized, and Elizabeth had declared that she meant to keep the treasure in safe custody; what she would do with it time would show. On 26 Jan. 1569 Mary Stuart was removed from Lord Scrope's castle at Bolton to the care of Lord Shrewsbury at Tutbury (Hatfield MSS. i. 395). The Queen of Scots, though under vigilant supervision, had a household of ten ladies and fifty other persons, with ten horses. Liberal as this treatment may seem at first sight, it still remains a question at whose charge this household was kept up. Lord Shrewsbury, it is certain, was full of complaints at the great expense he was put to. Elizabeth, if she ever repaid him, did not do so without much reluctance and many reminders. Mary's husband was still living in Denmark; but he, too, was in safe custody. The marriage between him and the queen was treated as invalid, though there were rumours that a divorce might be necessary, and could be easily obtained. But what was to be done with her? To send her back to Scotland would be, some said, to send her back to certain destruction; some said it would be to make the northern land more French than ever. Certainly it would be to plunge it deeper than ever into sanguinary civil war. On the other hand, to keep her in England, which she had voluntarily fled to as an asylum, was to assure her personal safety at the cost of a thousand risks and dangers which were obvious to any one who could form an estimate of the political outlook of the times wherever one turned.
It was not long (1569) before the first of these dangers showed itself. The Duke of Norfolk was unmarried. If he was not an avowed catholic, at any rate he was regarded as the head of the catholic party, and he was a personage round whom the catholic party would rally; they were still a powerful faction; in the north they were very powerful. Bothwell's name was hardly mentioned. The suspicion which the Casket letters had cast upon Mary's complicity in Darnley's murder might make Norfolk's pillow uncomfortable for him; but as to her having another husband alive at Copenhagen scribbling letters to her day after day (Cal. State Papers, Scotland, 1509-89, p. 310, No. 5), that seems hardly to have occurred to him as a matter to concern himself about. So the duke, in a vacillating, half-hearted, languid way, consented to be named as a suitor to the Queen of Scots. Of course Elizabeth heard of it, taxed him with it, threw him into the Tower, found that there was no evidence to convict him of anything more than a matrimonial plot, released him in August 1570, but continued to keep him under supervision. The great northern rebellion¾the story of which has been so splendidly told by Mr. Froude¾broke out in November. If the catholic party had had competent leaders, the issue might easily have proved calamitous for the country; as it was, the leadership and the energy were all on the other side. Even so there was room for anxiety and much need for promptness of decision, rapidity of action, and entire readiness to co-operate in any course that might be resolved on. But during all the crisis Elizabeth kept up a continual whimpering at the great charges she was being put to. She felt not the smallest anxiety about herself; she was sure that the result would be the discomfiture of the rebels; it was deplorable and vexatious that the cost of scourging them should be so heavy. She would have preferred that her nobles should rush upon these troublesome rioters with their riding-whips, as the Scythians served their mutinous slaves in old times; that would have been cheaper. Her nobles succeeded in quelling the dangerous outbreak in spite of their royal mistress, and when the time of punishment came they were encouraged to recoup themselves at the cost of those who might be implicated in the rising. Nothing in Elizabeth's life is more dreadful than the callous savagery which she permitted, and more than permitted, in the slaughter and pillage that followed the northern rebellion. She heard of it all, and did as her father would have done in the fury of his wrath.
Then there rose a cry that if the pope had but supported the rebellion and boldly excommunicated the queen the catholics would have answered to the call as one man. Rome has always moved slowly, but Rome was preparing to move now. On 25 Feb. 1570 Pope Pius V issued the bull, ‘Regnans in Excelsis,’ excommunicating Elizabeth by name, and absolving her subjects from any oath of allegiance that might have been taken to her at any previous time. She had been upon her throne eleven years and three months when this famous sentence was passed, and the importance of the event at the time can hardly be exaggerated. The news was soon known in England, but the bull was not published till 15 May. Then it was found in the morning nailed to the Bishop of London's palace gate, in defiance of queen, parliament, and all the powers that be. John Felton, the poor wretch who had dared to do the deed, was soon taken and soon hung, glorying in the act with his last breath. And yet the immediate effect of the sentence of excommunication was almost absurdly small. In London people were more scornful than in any other way concerned, and when the parliament assembled in April 1571 it proved much more protestant than had ever been known before. There were loud complaints against the laxity with which the laws against the papists had been carried out, and one act, which had passed both houses, though it was aimed at the catholic lords, was too much for the queen in her present mood to give her assent to, and it dropped. But though Elizabeth could be tolerant of beliefs she did not share in, or considerate to a whole order whom it was policy to conciliate, she had no pity for persons, whether high or low, who provoked her anger or vengeance. The treacherous capture of John Storey and his execution this year is an instance of her relentless severity where only a single person had to suffer; and the fate of the Duke of Norfolk seems to be best explained by looking upon it as an easy way of getting rid of a timid imbecile who could be sacrificed without any inconveniences being likely to follow, while, if he were allowed to live, he might prove troublesome as an instrument in abler hands.
When Mary Stuart had been two years in England, it seems that Elizabeth had grown tired of keeping her, and would have been glad to be rid of her, if only she could have seen her way to release her. There were some who boldly urged that the Gordian knot would be best unravelled by the executioner's sword; but little was to be gained by that when across the border there was still the little prince, James VI, with at least as good a title to the English crown as his mother's, and who in the hands of the politicians would be a better card to play than Mary Stuart had ever been.
Exactly at this juncture came in another of those complications which make the problems of this reign so intricate, and the course of the chief actors so difficult to explain. Hitherto deliberate plots for the assassination of an English sovereign had very rarely been dreamt of. Now, for the first time, we hear the whisper of such base conspiracies. It was when the Ridolfi plot was growing, and miscreants in high places half over Europe were suggesting this or that scheme for the overthrow of the queen of England, that we first hear of a design for compassing her murder. The ruffian who volunteered to do the deed was no common bravo, but a man of high birth, and an officer who had served with energy under Alva in the Netherlands. This was Chapin Vitelli, marquis of Cretona; he had been sent over in October 1569 to negotiate for the restitution of the treasure which Elizabeth persisted in keeping in her own custody. It is not improbable that even thus early he intended on his own responsibility to carry out the assassination, for he set out with a suite of sixty gentlemen, of whom only five were permitted to proceed further than Dover. From the first the man was regarded with suspicion, and he was dismissed in December, having effected nothing. But when the Ridolfi plot was not only advancing to maturity but seemed likely to result in a real rebellion, Vitelli was once more to the fore. Two months later the Ridolfi plot had been discovered, the Duke of Norfolk was again in the Tower, and on 2 June following (1572) he suffered on the scaffold. For the credit of Elizabeth it should be noted that to the last she shrank from signing the warrant for the execution, and did so only under much pressure, not only of her council but of her parliament. The Ridolfi plot had shown that the sympathies of a large section of the nobility were catholic; the plot meant murder, and had scarcely been discovered in its fulness when it was found that Don Gueran, the Spanish ambassador, had hired another band of cutthroats to assassinate Cecil, and Northumberland was at large across the border. Nevertheless when the parliament presumed to express an opinion as to what her next step ought to be, and strongly urged the stern necessity of getting rid of the difficulty of Mary Stuart by bringing her to the block, Elizabeth forbade them to proceed with their bill of attainder; and when both houses persisted in passing a measure which rendered Mary incapable of succeeding to the throne in the event of her surviving the queen regnant of England, the royal assent was withheld, and the parliament was prorogued.
In September 1567 the civil war again broke out in France. Again the Huguenots were worsted; again there was peace, both sides anxious to gain time. Next year (September, Cal. Dom. 1547-80, pp. 3-6) the Cardinal Chatillon, Coligny's brother, slipped away to England to gain the ear of Elizabeth. He seems to have had some money given him for the cause, little enough we may be sure (Hatfield MSS. i. 404, No. 1287), but he returned in November with fair promises (Nos. 1207-8). Elizabeth intended to help the Huguenots at Rochelle (Cal. Dom. 1547-80, p. 318, No. 92). In the spring of 1569 the war broke out with the old fury. This time Condé was opposed by Henry, duke of Anjou, brother of Charles IX and afterwards Henry III. On 13 March, at the battle of Jarnac, Condé died the death of a hero. Anjou, now in his nineteenth year, won well-deserved laurels. The protestant cause appeared desperate. Coligny and his brother Dandelot alone remained. It was Jeanne d'Albret, wife of Antony, king of Navarre, who gave the cause a new life. When least expected she appeared at Saintes, where the remains of the protestant forces were, with her son, Henry of Navarre, and the boy of fifteen was welcomed as the commander of the Huguenot armies. The peace of St. Germain (8 Aug. 1570) was a pretence of settlement once more, giving the Huguenots a certain measure of toleration and four cities of refuge, of which Rochelle was the most important. The policy of conciliation for a time prevailed. Charles offered his sister Margaret to young Henry of Navarre, and the hand of his brother, the Duke of Anjou, to the queen of England. This was in April 1571. Elizabeth was in her thirty-eighth year, Anjou was twenty. She amused herself with the new negotiations. While they were going on the evil day for the Huguenots was postponed. But Anjou was not the man to be used as a plaything. If he saw his way to a crown and something more, he would sacrifice himself. When he became convinced that the queen meant nothing serious, he threw her over, July 1571. In October Catherine de' Medici, the queen mother, was offering her youngest son, the Duke d'Alençon, as a substitute for his brother. The negotiations dropped for a while, but were renewed in February 1572, and continued from month to month, Catherine de' Medici being desperately in earnest, Elizabeth at this time scarcely pretending to be sincere. On 8 May parliament had assembled; on the 29th the Earl of Northumberland was sold by the Scots, after much higgling about the price to be paid, and delivered into the hands of Lord Hunsdon at Berwick. Hunsdon hated the vile business, and when an order came from the queen that he must carry his prisoner to execution at York he flatly refused to obey. The hateful office fell to another, and on 22 Aug. Northumberland was sacrificed.
The horrible tidings of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, 24 Aug. 1572, reached Elizabeth at Woodstock. At first she refused to give the French ambassador an audience. When she did she received him with impressive solemnity of manner, the whole court being dressed in deep mourning. The lords of the council turned away from the representative of the king of France with coldness and silence; but the ambassador himself actually, at this very audience, ventured to present the queen with a love-letter from the Duke d'Alençon, which we are told she not only accepted but read there and then!
The year of the St. Bartholomew massacre marks an epoch in the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth. With this year begins that long episode in the queen's life which goes by the name of the Alençon marriage. Francis, duke d'Alençon, was a hideous dwarf. In childhood he had escaped from the small-pox with his life, but the foul disease had left him blotched and scarred and stunted. A frightful enlargement at the end of his nose had divided into two, and the wits of the time made themselves merry with his ‘double nose,’ apt symbol, they said, of his double-facedness. Like all his brothers, he was licentious and unscrupulous. He had little education, and no religious principle, at one time siding with the catholic party, at another posing as a Huguenot leader in France, or accepting the sovereignty of the states of the Netherlands under conditions which he never meant to observe. His pock-marked face and discoloured skin as he dropped into a seat made him look like a frog, and Elizabeth called him, and he cheerfully accepted the name, her ‘petite grenouille.’ This was the lover whom the queen of England kept hoping and languishing for twelve long years, and whom, when he died, worn out by debauchery, on 9 June 1584, Elizabeth declared she had loved so entirely that she could not in his place accept the hand of the hero, Henry of Navarre. Three times he came to England. She kissed his lips in the presence of the French ambassador, of Walsingham, and of Leicester. In November 1581 she let it go forth to the whole of Europe that she would marry at last. Lord Burghley, in his own hand, drew up a digest of the incidents connected with the courtship, from its beginning in June 1572 till November 1579. We have less cause to regret that he did not continue the narrative; for in the archives of Hatfield there are still preserved more than one hundred love-letters that passed between the two, as amorous as were ever read at a trial for breach of promise. When the negotiations first began Elizabeth was in her fortieth year; when the prince died she was close upon fifty-two. Was it all mere acting? Was it a case of absolute infatuation? This only is certain, that Elizabeth was never so near marrying any one as she was to marrying this persistent suitor, and that if she was playing a part throughout, she overacted that part till she had wellnigh overreached herself. And all this while Leicester, whom men believed she loved, and Hatton, who pretended towards her a fervent passion, were daily at her side, and receiving substantial proofs of her power. They, too, were offering to her the incense of their coarsest flattery, deceiving or being deceived. It is not the least curious feature in her dealings with Alençon that only in his favour did she ever exhibit any generosity as far as money was concerned.
While amusing herself with this extraordinary lover, Elizabeth had no opportunity for idle languishing. In Scotland matters came to a crisis when Edinburgh Castle was surrendered to Sir William Drury in June 1573, with a force which Elizabeth tried hard but vainly to induce the regent Morton [see Douglas, James, d. 1581] to pay for. From this day the cause of Mary Stuart in Scotland was utterly hopeless. She was safer in her English captivity than she could ever again hope to be on the other side of the border. A month after the fall of Edinburgh the luckless Walter Devereux, earl of Essex, set sail for Ireland on that wild expedition which proved his ruin. The cost was to be borne partly by the earl, partly by the queen; but he mortgaged his estates heavily to Elizabeth before he started, and when he died he was a broken man. It was, however, in her conduct towards the protestant insurgents in the Netherlands, who had now begun their heroic struggle with the king of Spain, that Elizabeth's dealings were most tortuous. Burghley and the rest of the council were unanimous in desiring that the States should be strenuously supported as the champions of the protestant cause. Burghley had a foreign policy clear and defined. That policy was to weaken the power of Spain and France abroad, and to crush the hopes of the catholics at home by decidedly and consistently taking the side of those who were fighting for liberty of conscience, and were staking their all in a determined struggle with the pope and the Inquisition. Elizabeth herself had no policy; she was absolutely destitute of ambition; she clung to all she had; she never wished for more. War she hated, primarily because of the cost, and that meant an application to parliament for supplies. A war of conquest for the sake of annexing a province or extending her dominions nothing on earth would have induced her to engage in. Leadership had no attraction for her. She put away from her mind all thoughts about the future. She would live and die an island queen. The children of Henry VIII were the only sovereigns of England since the Conquest who had never crossed the Channel. Elizabeth never saw Scotland, Ireland, or Wales; indeed her yearly progresses were as a rule mere visits to the houses of the nobility in the home counties and the midlands. When she reached Bristol in 1574 she offered up special thanks to God for her preservation in that long and dangerous journey (Lansdowne MSS. cxv. 45). A detailed itinerary of her movements, such as exists for the reigns of Henry II and King John, would amuse the reader by showing the smallness of the area in which she lived during her seventy years. All this tended to make her narrow in her views of what was going on in the great world outside her. Intensely self-involved she looked at everything as it might affect her own purse and her own convenience, while her magnificent fearlessness kept away all anxieties about the future. But as to committing herself to a great cause she was incapable of understanding what it meant. From Burghley's point of view the revolted provinces were the battle-ground between protestantism and papistry. Elizabeth regarded the Flemings as mere rebels, whom she would have left to settle their own affairs with their sovereign if her council had allowed her. As for the pope or the king of Spain, it would be time enough to trouble herself about them when the one should dare to invade her dominions with his secret emissaries, or the other should try conclusions with her on the coast or in the Channel.
From the moment that William of Nassau was elected stadtholder of the United Provinces in 1572 Elizabeth's feeling towards him was not friendly. In England generally there was profound and enthusiastic sympathy with him in the struggle on which he had embarked. Immense sums were subscribed for his support; he was regarded as the hero on whose success the cause of protestantism depended. Elizabeth regarded him and his Flemings as being engaged in a great rebellion against their lawful sovereign. There was, however, a danger that if she would not support the United Provinces France might step in; that was to be avoided. She determined to give help, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed at Flushing on 9 July 1572 (Wright, i. 425) with a force of volunteers better furnished than ordinarily with arms and money, though the expedition seems to have been fitted out at the expense of the merchants of London. The force was allowed to join the insurgents. Shortly after this Elizabeth had made up her differences with Philip, the dispute about the treasure seized in 1568 had been settled, and in November Sir Humphrey was recalled. Next year Alva was succeeded in the government of the Netherlands by Requesens, and Elizabeth undertook to act as peacemaker between Philip II and the provinces. The Prince of Orange refused to entertain the proposals she made, but when all hope of aid from the French Huguenots disappeared he prevailed upon the States to offer the sovereignty of the Netherlands to Elizabeth herself, as the lineal descendant of Philippa of Hainault, and so the representative of the ancient sovereigns of the land. She appeared to hesitate; finally she refused the tempting offer. Requesens died in July 1575. For seventeen months the provinces were left to be governed by the council of state. Practically there was anarchy. The Spanish troops were left unpaid; they made requisitions upon the miserable people, and plundered town after town with remorseless atrocities. On 3 Nov. they sacked Antwerp. Almost the wealthiest city in Europe was given over to fire and pillage. On that same day a new governor arrived in Luxemburg, Don Juan of Austria, a natural brother of Philip II, and the hero of the battle of Lepanto. He began by dismissing the Spanish army, and ratified the pacification of Ghent; but it was plain that the Netherlands could not be ruled except by the sword. The Spanish and Italian troops returned, and the old horrors began again. In March 1578 Sir John Norris was allowed to cross over to join the Prince of Orange with two thousand men, but again they were mere volunteers; the queen would not commit herself, or contribute to the expense. On 1 Oct. Don Juan died suddenly, and was succeeded by the Duke of Parma, son of the regent Margaret. But Don Juan's mission was not in vain, for it was he who succeeded in dissociating the ten southern provinces from the seven Dutch provinces in the north. The former became united again to Spain, and constitute the modern kingdom of Belgium; the latter, the protestant provinces, now make up the kingdom of Holland.
We have seen that very early in her reign Elizabeth had prohibited under the severest penalties the saying of the mass in public or private, and had made it compulsory for all her subjects to attend the English service in the churches. The Statute of Uniformity came into force on 24 June 1559, but it was allowed to remain for the most part inoperative. The immediate effect, however, was to drive a large number of men of learning and ability into exile, and to strip the university of Oxford of its most brilliant scholars. A colony of them settled at Louvain, and soon set themselves to work to write pungent attacks upon the protestant doctrines and exasperating treatises in the vernacular in defence of the catholic dogmas. These were printed in Flanders, and were sent over to England as opportunity served, much to the annoyance of the queen and the bishops whom she had appointed. In 1563 an act was passed to restrain ‘the licentious boldness’ of those who of late had presumed to maintain the authority of the bishop of Rome; and the doing so by word or writing was to incur the penalties of præmunire; a repetition of the offence was to be visited by forfeiture and death, as in cases of high treason. It was the puritan parliament that had tried to force the queen's hand by passing this law; but Elizabeth had no intention of pressing it, and in fact it remained almost a dead letter for some years. But as time went on the catholic exiles began to feel that they were getting less and less in touch with the great mass of the catholics at home, and that as the old priests of Queen Mary's days, who had been schooled in the old faith and ritual, died off, the rising generation would gradually become habituated to the new worship and acquiesce in the new theology. It seemed to them of vital importance that England should be supplied with catholic priests who should fill the places of those who died off, and if possible that their numbers should be increased. In 1561 Philip II had founded a university at Douay in Artois, the original object being to discourage young men in the Netherlands from seeking education in France by providing them with as good education at home. The first chancellor was Dr. Richard Smith, a former fellow of Merton and regius professor of divinity at Oxford, one of the refugees. The appointment was significant. But much more significant was the foundation of the English college in the university by William Allen, subsequently known as Cardinal Allen, fellow of Oriel [see Allen, William]. The avowed object of this foundation was to educate young Englishmen for the priesthood, who should be pledged to return to England, there to pursue their ministrations and act as ‘missioners’ among the neglected catholics. The progress of the college was rapid enough to prove that it had been wanted. In 1574 the first of the newly ordained priests started upon the English mission, and from that time, year by year, great detachments were sent over, till in 1577 there were as many as twenty-four priests ordained, and next year twenty-two more. Meanwhile the pope's bull of excommunication had been published in 1570, and the parliament had expressed its alarm. In 1571 the famous act was passed which made it an offence punishable with death and forfeiture for any catholic priest to give absolution and ‘reconcile’ any one to the church of Rome, or for any one to receive such absolution at his hands. So far from this act tending to deter young enthusiasts from entering upon the perilous mission, it is plain that there was a certain fascination for many in the very danger to be faced and the hardships to be endured. In 1576 the feeling against the English in the Netherlands became very bitter. A strong party, by no means exclusively Calvinists, felt keenly that Elizabeth had betrayed them or was ready to betray them to Philip, and at Douay there was a cry raised that the English college was a nest of traitors who were playing false to the cause of the United Provinces. They were Englishmen, they should be expelled from the town. At this time there were no fewer than 120 students in the college. The worldly-wise among the townsmen saw that such an institution must needs be a source of income to the place; for a while they managed to keep down the violence of the multitude, but when the landing of Sir John Norris with the force sent by Elizabeth on 7 Jan. 1578 was followed by the disastrous defeat of Gembloux on the 31st, and the dastardly slaughter of six hundred prisoners in cold blood, the grief and rage of the people of Douay burst forth afresh. Elizabeth, they thought, had betrayed them, and Englishmen were all traitors, whatever their creed. The college was compelled to break up. In August it reassembled at Rheims, though with diminished numbers. Henceforth for a while its home was in the dominions of the king of France, not in those of the king of Spain. The stream of missioners continued to flow steadily across the Channel. Thirteen landed in England in 1578, next year twenty-one crossed over, twenty-nine more in 1580, exclusive of the two jesuit fathers, Parsons and Campion. It was not in the nature of things that such an immigration of proselytisers should not be followed by a revival of catholic sentiment in the country, or that the hopes of the ardent and sanguine among the catholic party should not rise. It is evident that there was a decided catholic revival, and that the comparative leniency shown to the catholic gentry tended to embolden those who had an affection for the old ritual. It was not long before they were awakened to a sense of their danger. A regular system of espionage was begun; the houses of the catholics were watched, and on Palm Sunday 1574 (4 April) a raid was made simultaneously upon three important houses in London, and Lady Morley, Lady Guilford, and Lady Brown, ‘with divers other gentlewomen,’ were surprised as they were hearing mass, and together with four priests were apprehended to be dealt with ‘according to the statute in that case provided.’ The four priests appear to have been old ‘Queen Mary priests,’ not missioners from the seminaries abroad. It was a beginning, but only a beginning.
The spies caught the first seminarist, Cuthbert Mayne, in the autumn of 1577. He was hanged and mangled on 29 Nov., and his host, Francis Tregean, a Cornish gentleman with a good estate, was thrown into prison, where he was kept for twenty-eight years, and sent out of the country to die in exile. In the following February two more of the missioners were taken and hanged at Tyburn, and from this time till the end of the reign the barbarities never ceased. But it was when Parsons and Campion, the first two jesuits who had ever set foot in England, landed in June 1580, that the queen, or at any rate her council, began to be seriously alarmed. There was no question of sedition, no thought of a rebellion, but there was a very great question as to who was to be obeyed in England in religious matters, the pope or the queen. The priests ordained abroad, and persisting in saying mass at home, were guilty of high treason according to the act. They defied the act, and must take the consequences of their temerity. This view of the case narrowed the issue to limits beyond which Elizabeth refused to look. One and all these priestly fanatics professed to honour her as their queen, and confessed that in conscience they were bound to obey her, with one reservation, however¾they could not acknowledge her authority as supreme head of the church in things spiritual. Elizabeth would have all or none; the obedience she claimed admitted of no reserve. Liberty of conscience, freedom of worship, she could no more away with than could Philip II or Alva. No special pleading in the world, no attempt to extenuate the acts done on the ground that they were called for by the exigencies of the hour, can alter the fact that for at least twenty years of Elizabeth's reign torture of the most revolting kind was habitually employed upon wretched men and women, who one after another declared that they prayed for her as their queen, but they could not, they dared not, accept the creed she attempted to impose upon them. During all these years there is no sign that Elizabeth ever felt one throb of pity or ever hesitated to sign a warrant for execution or to deliver over a miserable wretch to be dealt with by the ‘rack master.’ Campion was brought into her presence for a private interview from a dark and loathsome dungeon; the very next day he was subjected to inhuman torture. Fifteen years later the monster Topcliffe wrote a long letter to the queen setting forth his claim upon her regard, the ground of that claim being that he had helped more catholics to execution than any man in England. The justice of that claim was allowed, and for some years longer he continued at the old trade of vivisection and butchery.
Exactly a month after the death of Alençon William of Orange fell by the hand of an assassin (10 July 1584). In the Netherlands Parma made steady way against the insurgents, and the Dutch provinces seemed to be on the verge of despair. In July 1585 deputies from the States came to England, throwing themselves upon Elizabeth, prepared to make any conditions she might impose as the price of her help. The conditions were very hard ones. The queen was to furnish and pay four thousand men. Flushing, Brill, Ostend, and Rammekins, all coast towns, were to be delivered into her hands till the expenses which the war might cost should be repaid. As usual, the army arrived too late to save Antwerp, and was sent off without stores or a responsible commander. No sooner had the troops gone than Elizabeth wished they had never started, and Leicester was not allowed to leave England to commence operations till more than two months had elapsed. It may be true that he was incompetent; but hampered and thwarted as he was at every turn success was impossible. It may be true that his acceptance of the dignity of governor-general of the provinces (24 Jan. 1586) was an act of revolt against Elizabeth's authority; but her despatching a special envoy to flout him publicly before the States was an outrage without excuse, without precedent. There could be but one end to a campaign under such a commander, left without moral or material support from the queen at home. Leicester returned to England in September. The soldiers were left without pay, they were disbanded by their officers, and returned next year literally in rags and begging their bread, a miserable remnant of the host that had gone forth with hopes of conquest two years before.
The presence of Mary Stuart in England had from the first been embarrassing to Elizabeth. During the first five years of her captivity the Queen of Scots had been a source of unceasing disquiet. She had given no rest to her friends in Scotland and France, she had written to the pope imploring and claiming his intervention, she had laid plans for her escape, she had engaged in, or been believed to be at the bottom of, every treasonable plot; Elizabeth suspected that her coolest statesmen would succumb to her fascinations; but with the death of the Earl of Mar and the storming of Edinburgh Castle all hope of her ever being able to keep a party together in Scotland was at an end. Mary continued to live in somewhat luxurious captivity under the care of Lord Shrewsbury; but she could not live without intriguing, she had nothing else to do. It was by her means that a secret marriage was arranged in 1574 between Lord Charles Stuart, Darnley's brother, and Elizabeth Cavendish, Lady Shrewsbury's daughter by her first husband; the issue of that marriage was the Lady Arabella Stuart [see Arabella]. In 1576 the news came that Bothwell had died at Copenhagen¾it was uncertain whether in prison or in a madhouse. Then came the trial of Morton, his confession that he had been cognisant of the murder of Darnley and privy to Bothwell's carrying off the queen; and his death upon the scaffold (2 June 1581). Close upon this followed the plot of Parsons and Creighton, the jesuits, the raid of Ruthven, and the wild project of the Duke of Guise for an invasion of the south, while James was to lead an army from the north, and a general rising was to be organised of Mary's supporters in England. Meanwhile the persecution of the wretched catholics waxed hot and increased in cruelty. They who were moved with pity for the sufferers passed from pity to sympathy; there was a growing party of enthusiasts prepared to make sacrifices for the beautiful captive. Her long captivity was spoken of among those who knew little about the facts as a martyrdom for the true faith, her stubborn constancy was declared to be christian heroism. At last the great Guise conspiracy¾a stupid vague piece of vapouring talk about what might be¾became public property. Francis Throckmorton, after enduring the horrible tortures of the rack twice without betraying his friends, broke down at the sight of the dreaded instrument the third time, and told all he knew. There was serious alarm, for the Earls of Arundel and Northumberland (Henry Percy) were deeply implicated and were thrown into the Tower. A fresh batch of seminary priests were slaughtered. The Spanish ambassador left England in fierce wrath. Diplomatic relations between England and Spain were suspended, and it was soon found that De Guaras, who remained as a kind of Spanish consul to whom the merchants might refer in commercial disputes or questions of difficulty, was carrying on intrigues with the Queen of Scots, and, after being thrown into prison, was sent out of the country and told he might never come back. It was plain that a war with Spain must come sooner or later, and such a war could not but be looked forward to with anxiety. In October 1584 Walsingham and Burghley between them bethought them of a new and special appeal to the loyalty of the country. An ‘Instrument of an Association for the preservation of the Queen's Majesty's Royal person’ was drawn up with great care and circulated not only among the clergy and nobility, but among freeholders, farmers, and all men of substance in the several counties of England and Wales. It was in fact the first time in our history that anything approaching a plébiscite had been attempted which should express a decided vote of confidence in the sovereign. As a matter of course the instrument was signed without demur. The signatories bound themselves under an oath to preserve the queen's person with their substance and their lives, and to ‘pursue to utter extermination’ all who should attempt to harm her ‘or claim succession to the crown by the untimely death of her majesty’ (Cal. Dom. 1584, p. 210).
There could be no doubt who was aimed at in the clause which mentioned those who should ‘claim succession to the crown.’ Walsingham took care that the document should be shown to Mary Stuart. She was equal to the occasion, and at once declared her willingness to add her own signature.
The parliament met again on 23 Nov., voted liberal supplies in view of what was felt to be impending, and passed an act which in fact embodied the provisions of the instrument of association and made any person in whose favour an attempt at rebellion or taking the queen's life should be made, personally responsible for the consequences that might ensue, and the issue of such person cut off from succession to the crown. Having passed this act the parliament was again prorogued on 29 March 1585. An incident of a very startling nature had, however, disturbed the equanimity of the members before the parliament was a month old. There was a certain William Parry, a doctor of civil law of some foreign university, who had been returned as member for Queenborough, probably through the interest of Lord Burghley, who had employed Parry in some dubious missions for several years past. He was a man of blasted character, and it is difficult to believe that he was quite sane. A bill had been brought in for increasing the severity with which the seminary priests were to be dealt with, and for recalling, under tremendous penalties, the children of all the catholic gentry who were being educated abroad. When the bill was brought in for the third reading, Parry opposed it in a speech of extraordinary boldness and violence. The house was for the moment electrified, but Parry was given into custody, and his committal was expected to follow. To the surprise of every one the queen ordered his release, and no further notice was taken of his conduct. Six weeks later he was sent to the Tower on a charge of high treason and attempting to compass the death of the queen. He was brought to trial on 25 Feb., pleaded guilty, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered five days later. Whether he was as wicked as was believed, a mere impostor, or a madman or a dupe, it is certain that Parry had been going about for years sounding this man and that among the catholic divines on the question of the lawfulness of assassinating Elizabeth; and though he had entirely failed to obtain any sanction for his intended or pretended crime, and though he was eventually caught in his own trap, yet he succeeded thus far,¾that the names of such men as Parsons the jesuit, Cardinal Allen, and even the pope had been mentioned as in some way connected with Parry's doings, and the temper of men's minds was not softened towards Mary Stuart, who was credited with being at the bottom of every new discovery of real or supposed treasons. While the parliament was sitting and deliberating upon an act which really sealed her fate, Mary was transferred from the custody of Lord Shrewsbury to another keeper, and on 20 April she was committed to the custody of Sir Amyas Paulet, a grim and sour puritan, and found herself a close prisoner at Tutbury, rigorously watched day and night, and shut off from all communion with her friends outside. She saw hope passing from her, fretted, chafed, grew desperate, but all in vain. Her son made his own bargain with the queen of England and left his mother to her fate. The confinement at Tutbury told upon her temper and her spirit; she begged vehemently to be removed elsewhere. In January 1586 Elizabeth transferred her to Chartley in Staffordshire, a house of the Earl of Essex, where she remained till the following September. During these eventful months the vigilant supervision over Mary was relaxed, and as a matter of course intrigue and conspiracy began again and worse than ever.
The Babington plot was initiated [see Babington, Anthony; Ballard, John]. By the instrumentality of Gilbert Gifford (whom Mr. Froude strangely asserts to have been trained by the jesuits, which he certainly was not), Walsingham became as well acquainted with the movements of the plotters as they were themselves; he chose his own time for apprehending them, and was so deliberate in his plan of operations that the whole plot was believed by some to have been concocted by himself (see a letter in Cal. State Papers, Dom., Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 223), and is so represented even by Lingard. Gifford was allowed to slip away into France, where he died as a prisoner in the Bastille in 1590 (Walpole Letters, x. n. 2). The rest, fifteen in number, were put to death with such inhuman barbarities that even in those days the populace were shocked and indignant. There is too much reason to believe that Elizabeth herself suggested this exceptionally horrible treatment of the wretched criminals in one of her outbursts of ferocity.
The wretched men who had taken part in the Babington plot were brought to trial on 13 Sept. On 6 Oct. a commission was issued for the trial of the Queen of Scots. The commissioners assembled at Fotheringay, whither Mary had been removed (on 25 Sept.); the actual trial began on 15 Oct. Mary Stuart was tried upon the late statute, the charge being that she had conspired to procure the invasion of the realm and the death of the queen. Elizabeth had strictly enjoined that on this occasion no sentence should be passed, and though the trial was virtually at an end the court adjourned to meet again in the Star-chamber at Westminster on 25 Oct. On that day the commissioners reassembled and pronounced sentence of death. Parliament assembled on the 29th, and the proceedings in the trial were laid before each house. On 12 Nov. both houses united in a petition to the queen that the sentence should be carried out without delay. Elizabeth returned an ambiguous answer; she could not take the decided step; she hesitated and delayed from week to week; she wished the Queen of Scots were dead with all her heart; she shrank from the shame and disgrace that would attach to her if she brought her to the block. The lords of the council, with Burghley at their head, were unanimous in pressing for the execution. Leicester, away in Holland, wrote letters urging her to it. It must be conceded that Elizabeth stood alone at this dreadful time in feeling any reluctance to carry out the sentence. She knew that the whole responsibility of the act would rest with her if it were carried out, and she tried desperately to shift that responsibility from her own shoulders. There is no trace of any softening towards the Queen of Scots, only a feverish desire to set herself right with the world outside her own kingdom, exactly as her father had for years shrunk from divorcing himself from Catherine of Arragon. When Elizabeth saw that she must either cease to look for the approval of the civilised world or leave undone the deed which she had resolved to do, she sent Mary Stuart to the scaffold and repented, not that the deed was done, but that she had been the doer of it. By far the most dreadful reproach that posterity has to bring upon her is, and must for ever remain the fact, that a week before the execution Elizabeth made one last attempt to induce Sir Amyas Paulet and Sir Drue Drury to kill Mary Stuart privately. Paulet, ‘with great grief and bitterness of mind,’ made answer to the detestable proposal: ‘God forbid,’ he wrote, ‘that I should make so foul a shipwreck of my conscience or leave so great a blot to my poor posterity, to shed blood without law or warrant’ (Sir A. Paulet, Letter Book, p. 362). When the tidings came that the warrant Elizabeth had signed had indeed been executed, she overacted her part; her fury was real, but her repudiation of all share in the responsibility of the final tragedy could deceive none of those who to the very last she had vainly hoped might contrive somehow to save her from herself. Davison was the one victim whom she sacrificed to her resentment, the one statesman whom she could afford to degrade. Six days after the execution had become known to the world and had provoked one loud burst of horror and indignation over Europe, Elizabeth, in a letter to James (now by his mother's death undisputed king of Scotland), expresses ‘extreme dolour’ for the ‘miserable accident’ that had befallen, and Robert Carey, the bearer of that letter, believed she was sincere. There is little doubt she was. How could she but be grieved that the moral sense of the world condemned her?
While the arrangements for the removal of Mary Stuart from Tutbury to Chartley were being discussed by Sir Amyas Paulet and his correspondents, Sir Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth (14 Sept. 1585) on his memorable voyage to Spain. The little fleet numbered twenty-five sail all told. It was not the last of those strange ventures in which the queen herself took shares, and which had as their object the committing ravages upon the dominions of Philip and enriching the shareholders. Drake returned 28 July 1586. The expedition hardly paid its expenses, but to Spain and her trade it brought heavy calamity. Meanwhile Elizabeth was dreaming of deserting the Netherlands. She was allowing her small army to waste away inactive and half starved, and actually making or listening to overtures for a peace with Spain on the basis of abandoning the cause of the provinces and surrendering, not to them but to their implacable foe, the cautionary towns that had been handed over to her as the price of her co-operation. While she was halting between two opinions, perplexing her ministers and herself, and trying to outwit every one by turns, Drake was allowed to slip away with a squadron of thirty sail, of which this time six large ships belonged to the queen's navy, with orders to ‘impeach the joining together of the king of Spain's fleet,’ and otherwise to do them all the harm he could. Drake got off on 2 April 1587. Exactly a week after he had sailed Elizabeth changed her mind, and sent him counter orders. They came too late; Drake was not the man to tarry. On the 19th he made a dash upon Cadiz, burnt and sank thirty-three vessels, and brought away four that were already laden with provisions for the forces that were to invade England, when the great expedition should be ready to start. There was no secret about it now. Philip II had made up his mind at last, and was grimly in earnest.
When Philip II embarked upon the ambitious enterprise of the conquest of England, he had been engaged for thirty years in a vain attempt at making himself absolute ruler of the Netherlands, and as far as the seven northern provinces were concerned he was no nearer than he had ever been to success. The cost of this protracted war had got beyond the power of calculation. Spain had become the poorest country in Europe, and her people the most heavily taxed people in the world. What is most surprising is the fact that Philip himself knew the desperate condition of his finances, and yet never for one moment swerved in his purpose, and never doubted his ability to invade and conquer England, and sweep her navies from the sea. As little did his infatuated subjects doubt the omnipotence of their sovereign. In the pride of his immeasurable self-reliance he was incapable of understanding that while he had been wrecking his finances in bootless warfare, the rest of the world had been benefiting by his blind expenditure. He knew nothing of England's real resources, nothing of that mighty reserve of power which the queen of England could always fall back upon.
A standing army was a thing unknown in England. But the musters constituted a militia ready at any moment to take the field fully armed; while the liability to furnish ships for the defence of the coast, assessed by no means exclusively upon the seaports and the counties most exposed to invasion, guaranteed to the nation at large that a national fleet could be provided at the expense of all in the hour of need, and by the simplest financial machinery. Of the whole number of ships, great and small, which sailed out to meet the Armada, not a third were even paid and victualled by the queen. More than 120 vessels were fitted out by the London merchants and the smaller seaports (Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, ii. 185; Cal. Dom. 1588, pp. 477, 482), and these were as a rule far better furnished than the queen's ships. The latter were notoriously and scandalously ill-furnished with stores and provisions for the sailors, and it is impossible to lay the blame upon any one but the queen. She would not believe that invasion was seriously intended; she shut her eyes to facts. At a time when it was of supreme importance that there should be no hesitation, no delay, no appearance of stint, there was everywhere niggardliness and trumpery higgling with contractors about the price of supplies. It was not so much that the commissariat broke down, as that there was no commissariat. The queen had gone on from day to day putting off the giving of those orders which involved the spending her money generously. So elaborate had been the arrangements for providing all needful supplies to the Armada, that the number of the victualling and store vessels accompanying the fighting ships proved a serious embarrassment. The queen's ships were without the barest necessaries.
Elizabeth stubbornly refused to open her eyes to the danger, even when the Spanish fleet had been sighted off the coast (Cal. Dom. 1588, p. 493). Lord Howard, writing to Walsingham in June, bitterly grieves that ‘her majesty will not thoroughly awake ¼ in this perilous time.’ Here and there offers were sent up by generous volunteers to supply victuals for a month at their own cost (p. 494). Everywhere there was a burning impatience to act upon the offensive, and it was the unanimous opinion of the most experienced commanders that Spain should be attacked on her own coast, not waited for on the narrow seas. Drake again and again urged this upon the queen and her council; they were only eager to follow his advice, but their hands were tied. Elizabeth meddled, delayed, hesitated. It really looked as if England could only be saved in spite of her. In the third week of July, when a Spanish fleet was reported off the Lizard, Lord Howard ‘begs for the love of God’ to have some powder and shot sent to him, and this while a running fire was being kept up actually within sight of Plymouth. There were but three weeks' supplies provided, and some of the ships engaged had provisions only for a few days. It was just as bad with the land forces. The army which had been called out specially for the defence of the queen's person had as yet had no commander appointed over it. The fortifications at Gravesend were said to be in a fair condition. Tilbury might be made impregnable, but there was neither powder nor guns, nor any other adequate supplies. On 26 July Leicester writes that four thousand men had assembled at West Tilbury, all animated by a spirit of enthusiastic loyalty, yet again ‘great want of victuals; not a barrel of beer nor a loaf of bread after twenty miles march.’ On the 27th Leicester took the command of the forces on the Thames. It was on 8 Aug. that Elizabeth arrived at the camp at Tilbury from St. James's, and rode along the lines, sowing the seed of brave and kindly words to the soldiers. But by this time the danger was past, and the Armada had disappeared. From the very first the Spanish ships had done little else than try to get away from their determined assailants. When it was all over one of the captains, writing to Walsingham, exclaims, in the bitterness of his disappointment, ‘Her parsimony at home hath bereaved us of the famousest victory that ever our nation had at sea.’ The gain to England had been astonishingly small; the loss of life among the starved and neglected sailors was frightful. On 10 Aug. Lord Howard declares to Burghley that ‘the Elizabeth Jonas had lost half her crew,’ and that ‘of all the men brought out by Sir Ric. [Roger?] Townsend, he has but one man alive.’ Well might the admiral say, ‘It is a pitiful sight to see the men die in the streets of Margate.’ But the victory was won and the country was safe, and on 20 Aug. Dean Nowell preached a sermon of thanksgiving at St. Paul's, the lord mayor and all the city magnates attending with the usual civic pomp. On 24 Nov. Elizabeth herself went to St. Paul's in state to give thanks for her deliverance (Nichols, Progresses, ii. 538). Little more than three weeks after her review of the troops at Tilbury Leicester died at Cornbury, Oxfordshire, on his way to Kenilworth (4 Sept.). No sooner was his death known than the queen seized upon his estate, and sold his effects by public auction in discharge of a debt he owed to the exchequer. It may be that her bitter hate of Leicester's widow furnishes us with some excuse or some explanation of this step.
The romance of Elizabeth's life ends with this year, 1588. She was now fifty-five. There could be no more talk of love and marriage. Death had played sad havoc with her old suitors; Eric of Sweden, Adolphus of Holstein, the Valois princes had all passed away, and now Leicester was dead. Yet if at times the conviction of her loneliness came upon her, or she was brought face to face with the fact that her youth had fled, she put these thoughts from her, and with a haughty vehemence she refused to look forward. If there was a finality about her position which her ministers were for ever trying to provide against, to the very end she declined to concern herself with what might come. Her successor she would never name. Yet the loss of Leicester, her ‘sweet Robin,’ must have come upon her as a real personal loss from time to time. She and he understood one another; he never presumed too far upon the intimate relations that existed between them.
The exchequer was empty; the cost of keeping up the forces by land and sea had been very heavy; the nation was ready to pay the bill of the past year, and ready too to incur a new one if Spain could be humbled, and danger from that quarter be effectually put a stop to. Parliament met on 4 Feb. 1589, and voted liberal supplies. The payment of the subsidies, tenths, and fifteenths was spread over four years, the people would feel the weight of the taxation very little, they were quite prepared to support the queen in a war of reprisal. Nevertheless Elizabeth would by no means consent to protract the conflict, or to carry it on as her father would have done. If her people entertained towards her person that passionate loyalty which almost rose to the point of blind worship, then it was for them to defend her at their own charges. Elizabeth seems never to have been able to take any other than this narrow view. When the great expedition of Norris and Drake set sail in April 1589, it assumed the character of a mere joint-stock speculation, a huge piratical venture, to which the queen contributed 20,000l. and six ships (Cal. Dom. Addl. 1580-1603, p. 273). A flimsy excuse was offered for it which could deceive no one. Don Antonio, the claimant to the throne of Portugal, it was said, was asserting no more than his right, and this fleet of 160 sail (ib. p. 275), and carrying a force of more than twenty-three thousand men, was equipped with the object of supporting him in his attempt to recover his kingdom. The Portuguese pretender gained nothing, the adventurers lost heavily, the whole thing was a humiliating disappointment, except in the damage it wrought to Spain. The loss of life was again ‘appalling’ [see Drake, Sir Francis]. Six years later Elizabeth sent out her last and most disastrous expedition to the West Indies and the Spanish main. Drake and Hawkins were associated in the command of the fleet. Neither of them returned. Hawkins died on 11 Nov. 1595 as his ship lay at anchor off Porto Rico; Drake on 28 Jan. following at Porto Bello. Frobisher had died in November 1594. There were none to take their places.
After this time there was no more sending fleets across the Atlantic. It was shrewdly suspected that the king of Spain might be attacked and his treasure-ships intercepted just as easily and much more economically on the coast of Spain and Portugal as four thousand miles away. Drake's last voyage was followed up by the famous Cadiz voyage in 1596 [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex], which brought more glory than profit, and by the Island voyage of 1597, which brought neither profit nor glory. Elizabeth was irritated by the intelligence that the treasure fleet had escaped her navies three years running, and that no gain had come to her exchequer to repay the advances she had made. The last of the naval expeditions was that of 1602. Sir Richard Leveson with Sir William Monson as his vice-admiral was sent off with a fleet of ten ships (Cal. Dom. 1602, p. 152), victualled for five months to cruise off the coast of Spain, do all the damage it could, and intercept any vessels returning from the East or West Indian voyage. He fell in with a carrack of fourteen hundred tons, drove her into Lisbon, and managed to cut her out under the guns of the fort and bring her safely into Plymouth in July (ib. p. 228). She proved a valuable prize, laden with ebony, spices, and other produce, but treasure there was none. The Portugal trade was with the East Indies. The fleet laden with the produce of the silver mines of Bolivia was always bound for San Lucar. It was a poor return for all the cost, but it was something. With this success the naval history of Elizabeth's reign comes to an end.
We have seen that for the first thirty years of her reign Elizabeth had managed to keep from any very costly interference with the interminable civil wars that were going on in France. The time came at last when she could no longer hold aloof from the fierce struggle. A rapid succession of ghastly surprises, such as only French history can furnish examples of, beginning at the end of the Armada year, brought on a crisis. The murder of the two Guises in December 1588, the death of Catherine de' Medici a fortnight later, and the assassination of Henry III on 1 Aug. 1589, had opened the question who was to succeed to the throne now that the house of Valois had come to an end. Elizabeth was compelled to support the cause of Henry of Navarre, if only to thwart the ambitious designs of Philip. In September 1590 Lord Willoughby de Eresby was sent across the Channel with four thousand men and some supplies of money [see Bertie, Peregrine]. But he returned without effecting anything. Next year Henry IV won the famous battle of Ivry (14 March), but lost more than he gained when the Spaniards under Parma succeeded in relieving Paris. In 1591 he was driven to apply to Elizabeth again, and Robert, earl of Essex, was sent out with four thousand men on 21 July [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex]. Henceforth the part that England played in French affairs was inconsiderable. The dreaded Parma died on 2 Dec. 1592, and when Henry IV apostatised and was received into the church of Rome (23 July 1593) Elizabeth took less interest in French affairs. France and Spain made peace at Vervins (2 May 1598); the edict of Nantes was published three weeks later, and Philip himself died in the following September. The treaty with the Netherlands of August 1598 relieved Elizabeth from all expense in the war that was going on, and put her in the anomalous position of a sovereign pledged to permit the levying of forces in her own kingdom which were to be used abroad (Federa, xvi. 340). So, only that her own exchequer was not burdened, her subjects might fight the Spaniards on the other side of the Channel at the cost of the States, leaving her to make peace with Spain if the time should come for that.
The administration of Ireland during the reign of the queen is not a pleasant subject to write upon. So far as the queen had any Irish policy it resolved itself into one fixed idea, to which she clung with more than her usual stubborn tenacity of purpose. Ireland was to be assimilated in all respects to England, in law and in religion; and she must be made to pay her own expenses, and, if it might be so, to contribute to the national exchequer. Deputy after deputy was sent over, only to return more or less disgraced and impoverished. The ancient Brehon law was done away with, the ancient religion remained. The story of treachery, bloodshed, wholesale massacres, and ferocity on one side or the other is hideously monotonous. The one single monument of Elizabeth's rule in Ireland which reflects any honour upon her memory is the university of Dublin, which opened its doors in 1593 and admitted the great Ussher, then a boy of thirteen, among its first undergraduates. It was in this very year that the rebellion of Tyrone broke out. For five weary years Ireland was ravaged and plundered by one side and the other with the usual barbarities. On 14 Aug. 1598 things came to a crisis. Tyrone had laid siege to Blackwatertown, a stronghold of some importance, well garrisoned and stubbornly defended, situated about five miles from Armagh. Sir Henry Bagnell, marshal of the queen's army in Ireland, hurried to the relief of the fort with nearly four thousand men. Tyrone turned upon him and utterly defeated the English host. Bagnell himself, a large number of his officers, and more than seven hundred of his men were slain. The completeness and the disgrace of the defeat produced a profound impression (Chamberlain, Letters, Camden Soc. 1861). Lord Burghley died just ten days before this disaster.
Of all the stories that have been told of Queen Elizabeth none are more honourable to her memory than those which speak of her kind and gentle treatment of Lord Burghley during his last illness. When her faithful treasurer, to whom she owed so much during his lifelong service, lay dying, the queen visited him again and again. In him she lost the firm supporter on whom she knew she could rely without misgiving, the wise counsellor who was never at fault, the faithful minister whose loyalty was his religion. ‘Serve God by serving the queen’ were almost the last words he wrote to his son, Sir Robert Cecil, three weeks before he died.
All the old advisers of the queen had died off now. Leicester, Walsingham, Hatton, and now the great Cecil, had all passed away; a very different band had gathered round her. There was no more the old severity and caution and largeness of view, nor was there the old unquestioning submission to her will. The new men were squabbling among themselves for the first place, in the hope that they might acquire ascendency over her, not with the simple desire to serve her loyally. Young Sir Robert Cecil, now about twenty-five years old, was the only man who had inherited the traditions of the old days. Raleigh and Essex were both brilliant, passionate, jealous of each other, with a certain martial ardour and restlessness which they had in common, and a certain craving for adventure, which was the outcome of their romantic temperament.
When Lord Burghley died, Robert, earl of Essex, had been ten years at court. He was in his thirty-first year, and had received from the queen many and signal proofs of her favour. But his arrogance was unbounded, and, though Elizabeth entertained for him a strong feeling of personal interest amounting to affection, he presumed so outrageously upon her indulgence that it is wonderful she bore with him so long. In 1593, at the suggestion of Francis Bacon, Essex threw himself with characteristic energy into the study of foreign affairs, and employed a large staff of ‘intelligencers’ to furnish him with reports from all parts of Europe. In 1594 he believed that he had discovered a plot against the queen's life. Dr. Lopez, the queen's physician, was accused of having accepted a bribe to poison her. Burghley and Sir Robert Cecil put no faith in it; Elizabeth herself laughed at it; but Essex vehemently persisted in his accusation of the unhappy man, and he was executed on evidence which was shamefully insufficient. Then came the Cadiz and the Island voyages. On his return from the latter Essex found that he had lost ground at court. He became more and more petulant and unmannerly, and a few weeks before Burghley's death he was so unbearably insolent to the queen that she gave him a violent box on the ear. Essex put his hand upon his sword-hilt. It was wellnigh the most dramatic incident in Elizabeth's life.
Raleigh was in disgrace, Essex was irrepressible. Whether he wished it or not may admit of doubt, but in March 1599 Essex was appointed ‘lieutenant and governor-general of Ireland’ (Devereux, ii. 11). He failed signally. The queen wrote angrily, and on 30 July peremptorily forbade his leaving his post. In September he agreed to a truce with Tyrone. Elizabeth was very indignant, and warned him against coming to any terms with the Irish without her sanction being obtained beforehand. Essex forthwith left Dublin, and on 28 Sept. arrived in London, directly contrary to orders. The flagrant disobedience of orders was utterly indefensible, and a less severe sentence than was passed could hardly have been pronounced. Essex was dismissed from all offices of state, and ordered to remain a prisoner in his own house at the queen's pleasure; this was on 5 June 1600. Immediately after Essex had appeared in England, he was superseded in his government of Ireland by Charles Blount, eighth lord Mountjoy [q.v.], who succeeded brilliantly where Essex had failed deplorably. Elizabeth lived to hear that the Irish rebellion had been brought to an end, but the formal submission of Tyrone came too late¾it was made not to her, but to her successor.
The glory of Elizabeth's reign began to wane with the scattering of the Armada. She had won a position in European politics which none could venture to disregard. At home things were not what they had been. There was far less splendour in her court, its tone was lowered. A certain air of dulness, even of vulgarity, slowly crept over the very pageants and masques and festivities which were presented as homage to her majesty from year to year. Even Spenser's genius could not rise above affectation in addressing her in 1590, and when next year the lake at Cowdray was dragged, and the net emptied at her feet with a very prosaic oration, foolery could hardly go lower. The queen visited Oxford for the second time in 1592; the proceedings were drearily dull, there was no enthusiasm, no gaiety. Very different were the drolleries which were exhibited before her by the gentlemen of Gray's Inn in 1594; then the fun was of the broadest, the jokes and language lavishly coarse, even to grossness. Nevertheless these fantastic entertainments were kept up to the very last. Against the advice of her council she persisted in paying her accustomed visits to the houses of the nobility in the winter of 1602, and it was probably the pitiless north-east wind which prevailed in January 1603, and to which she exposed herself with her usual imprudence, that brought on her last illness. Of all that remarkable band of men who served her so loyally in the times of trial and danger, Thomas Sackville, lord Buckhurst, alone survived her. Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick, Leicester's elder brother, and Sir Francis Walsingham died in 1590, Sir Christopher Hatton in 1591, the rugged old Lord Hunsdon and his brother-in-law, Sir Francis Knollys [q.v.], in 1596. Elizabeth made immense demands upon her ministers. It may be doubted whether any of those who enjoyed her greatest favour (with the single exception of Leicester) were at all the richer for their devotion to her person. Walsingham and Hatton died insolvent, Burghley's patrimony was very little increased by all his preferments, and the rivalries in the splendour of the entertainment offered crippled more than one of the wealthiest of the nobility. All this prodigal display was slowly but surely tending to weaken the aristocracy. The wealth of the merchants was rapidly growing, the moneyed class was steadily gaining power. Elizabeth saw what was coming, but she did not love the commons; she was always averse to summon a parliament, and never did so until she was compelled.
Parliament, indeed, was called together only thirteen times in more than forty-four years. During the last thirteen years of her reign it assembled thrice, viz. in 1592, 1597, and 1601. When the house had voted supplies, the sooner it was dissolved the better. It is evident that Elizabeth was in some anxiety as to how the parliament of 1592-1593 would behave, and when the lord-keeper, Puckering, delivered his opening address, he expressly warned the members that they were not expected to make new laws, for there were enough of them already, but to provide for the present necessities. When there arose a discussion upon the question whether all recusants, whatever their creed, should be treated alike, and a stormy religious debate seemed imminent, the queen promptly interposed. Thereupon, as if to console themselves for being silenced where they would have preferred to speak, or to show their dissatisfaction, the members argued this time on the subject of the triple subsidy and the tenths and fifteenths that were asked for. Sir Robert Cecil declared that the last subsidies of 1589 had only yielded 280,000l., against which the queen had spent from her own exchequer 1,030,000l. in defensive wars (D'Ewes, p. 483); but the house was either in no good humour or was badly handled, and the vote was only agreed to, and the bill passed after a debate which extended over the unprecedented time of eleven days (ib. p. 507). Five years later parliament voted supplies upon the same scale without demur, but during the session an address to the queen was drawn up, protesting against ‘the enormous abuse of monopolies.’ Just before the dissolution Elizabeth replied through Lord-keeper Egerton with an appeal to ‘her loving and dutiful subjects’ not to encroach on her prerogative. We are left to infer that the money vote of 1597 was granted, in part at least, ‘for the speedy payment of the queen's majesty's debts.’ In the last parliament some difficulty was experienced. The ground taken by Cecil in 1601 for asking for fresh subsidies was that the Spaniards had landed a force in Ireland. If they are attacked at once, said the practical secretary, it will cost us 100,000l.; if we allow them to be reinforced, it will cost us half a million. So the money was voted. But the question of monopolies again came to the front, and it was proposed, in view of the evasive reply given to the address of 1597, to deal with the question by statute. Cecil and Bacon in behalf of the queen strongly deprecated this course, but after four days' hot debate Elizabeth sent down a message announcing her intention to revoke all grants of monopolies ‘that should be found injurious by fair trial at law’ (Hallam). This prudent step satisfied the commons, and a collision between them and their sovereign was averted. Having got through a prodigious amount of business of a very miscellaneous character, the commons were sent for on 19 Dec. 1601 to the upper house, and there ‘her majesty, under a rich cloth of state,’ after receiving their obeisance, dissolved her last parliament, which had dealt more liberally with her than any that had gone before.
The harsh and cruel treatment which the seminary priests and all who favoured them received at the hands of Elizabeth has been already dwelt on. Between 24 July and 29 Nov. 1588 (four months!) twenty-two priests and eleven lay folk, one a woman, were put to death with revolting cruelties under the statute of 27 Eliz. (Tierney, Dodd, iii. 163). Though no such wholesale slaughter was perpetrated after this, yet not a year passed without some unhappy creatures being executed, even to within five weeks of the queen's death, when William Richardson, a seminary priest, was ‘hanged, bowelled, and quartered’ at Tyburn for being found in England contrary to the statute. But in the Armada year the puritans and sectaries began to find out that they too might presume too much upon the toleration which, such as it was, had been hitherto accorded to them. It is one of the many anomalies which we meet with in the history of Elizabeth's reign that, while ample freedom of worship was granted to foreigners, and churches were actually delivered over to them for their use (Moens, Walloon Church of Norwich, vol. i. pt. ii. chap. iii.), nonconformity, with the ritual prescribed by law, was punished as a crime when Englishmen were convicted of it. At first the only people who suffered inconvenience for conscience sake among the precisians were the clergy who objected to surplices and square caps, and the cross at baptism, and the ring at the marriage ceremony, with other matters equally trivial. These clergy were deprived of their livings, or suspended, or refused a license to preach in the churches; it is certain, however, that they were not otherwise worried. This only must be understood, that in the church the queen would tolerate no departure from the ritual established by law. Here and there it would happen that the friends of a popular preacher would gather together in private and so a ‘conventicle’ would be the result, but as no great harm was likely to come of such gatherings the authorities were not very ready to interfere. Separation from church communion had hardly been thought of as yet in England.
It was in 1567 that the first serious interference with a puritan conventicle was heard of. A large number of people had assembled at Plumbers' Hall in London, and while they were engaged in their religious exercises the myrmidons of the law burst in upon them and carried off a dozen or so of the boldest and threw them into prison (Strype, Parker, i. 480). This was not a solitary instance, for a year or two after this it appears that there were then many languishing in the London prisons, and that some had actually died in gaol (Mrs. Green, Preface, p. xlv, Cal. Dom. Add., 1566-79). As time went on the queen became less and less tolerant of any departure from the prescribed formularies; the puritans began to discover that the statute of 23 Eliz. c. 2 was a double-edged weapon, which might be used against themselves. It was on the charge of publishing seditious libels against the queen's government, which this statute had made a capital offence, that Penry, Udal, Barrow, and Greenwood suffered, though the first two were representatives of those who desired what they considered necessary ecclesiastical reforms; the others protested that the church of England as by law established was essentially corrupt in its constitution, and nothing short of separation from communion with it was imperative upon all true and faithful christians.
In dealing with the two classes of nonconformists, the Romanists and the puritans, the queen's method of procedure was marked by a notable difference. The Romanists refused to take the oath of supremacy, and refused to conform to the ritual by law established, on the ground that in spiritual matters they owed allegiance to the pope of Rome, at whose dictation they withdrew from all communion with the schismatical church of England and its excommunicated ‘supreme head;’ that is, they set up the authority of a foreign power as antagonistic to the power of the queen of England. This position, in the view which Elizabeth and her council thought proper to take of it, compelled the government to treat the nonconformity of the Romanists as a political offence, and as such it was dealt with by the civil power (see a remarkable speech of the queen reported in Cal. Dom. 1601-3, p. 168).
The puritans, on the other hand, railed against the established religion and the ceremonies insisted on, because by their enactment burdens had been laid upon men's consciences which were more than they could bear. These men set up a court of appeal which they vaguely maintained was to be found in the Bible, and when it was answered that the Bible had been appealed to already, and the interpretation of the Bible had been expressed once for all in the formularies of the church of England, they rejected that interpretation as contradicting certain conclusions at which they had themselves arrived. The puritans thereupon were handed over to the bishops and ecclesiastical courts, and Elizabeth, as far as might be, left the disputants to settle their differences as best they could. The result was that from the catholics the bitter cry arose and continued against the queen and her council, the pursuivants, the judges, and the magistrates. From the puritans came louder and louder clamour against the bishops and the high commission court, and those ecclesiastical functionaries who from time to time worried and imprisoned offenders, silenced ministers, scattered conventicles, threw some zealots into prison, and, in some few instances¾they were very few¾sent obstinate and violent offenders to the scaffold. Personally, however, Elizabeth, though she hated the puritans and sectaries, took care to throw upon the church courts the odium of dealing with them. There were the formularies established by law, there was the old machinery of the church courts to put into force on occasion, there were the Thirty-nine Articles agreed on in convocation, and confirmed by act of parliament. Further than these the queen would not go. To her mind the question was settled; it should never be opened again. When the religious meetings termed ‘prophesyings,’ which many of the bishops in their several dioceses had encouraged with good results (Strype, Annales, ii. i. 133, 472), began to assume the form of mere noisy and mischievous debates, in which the formularies were as often assailed as defended, Elizabeth put a stop to them with a high hand, notwithstanding Archbishop Grindal's expostulation (Strype, Grindal, p. 558).
And here it is necessary to remark upon the general attitude of Elizabeth towards the bishops of the church during her reign. The ecclesiastical organisation in England as it existed when Queen Mary died was very anomalous. Before the rupture with the papacy the church in theory was co-ordinate with the state. As the king was the head of the one, so the pope was the head of the other. By the reconciliation with Rome, which had been brought about in Queen Mary's time, this condition of affairs had been restored; but when Elizabeth succeeded she treated the reconciliation as if it had never taken effect. Thereupon she found herself face to face with the question, ‘Who is now the head of the church in England?’ It was a question that could not remain unanswered, and it was not long before she found herself compelled to accept the answer which her father had invented, and compelled to adopt the title which he had claimed of supreme head of the church in England. But she never cordially approved of the style. She never willingly interfered in matters ecclesiastical, and she inclined to leave the bishops with a free hand. When Grindal in 1577 refused to put down the prophesyings, he was suspended; but the suspension proved to be extremely inconvenient, and, after having been practically relaxed, it was at last taken off. The archbishop, however, became blind, and thereupon the queen requested him to resign the archbishopric. This he was willing enough to do, but some formal difficulties came in the way, and before the final arrangements could be effected Grindal died. A close parallel to this treatment of the archbishop is afforded in the case of Bishop Cox of Ely. He, too, incurred the queen's displeasure by his obstinate resistance to Sir Christopher Hatton and Roger, lord North, who had set themselves to rob the see of Ely of two of its episcopal houses. But Cox [see Cox, Richard] managed to hold his own after a fashion, though the courtiers made his life a burden to him. He, too, earnestly and repeatedly expressed his willingness to resign his see, but again difficulties came in the way, and he retained his bishopric till his death.
The letter so frequently quoted, professing to be from Queen Elizabeth to Bishop Cox, beginning with the words ‘Proud prelate!’ is a stupid and impudent forgery, which first saw the light in the ‘Annual Register’ of 1761. Yet, absurd as the fabrication is, few forgeries have succeeded so well in exercising a malignant influence upon the estimation in which the queen's character has been held by historians.
But if the authority and jurisdiction of the bishops was respected, it was far otherwise with their estates. There Elizabeth's love of money came in to help in shaping her course of action. When a bishopric was vacant the revenues of the see were paid into the royal exchequer till the next consecration, and all the patronage meanwhile was transferred to the queen. When Bishop Cox died in 1561, no successor was appointed to Ely for eighteen years; the sees of Chichester, Bristol, Worcester, Bath and Wells, and Salisbury were severally kept vacant for terms varying from three to ten years; but the most flagrant case of all was that of Oxford, which for forty-one years of this reign was without any bishop, the income during all this time presumably being paid to the queen's account! Elizabeth's last years were sad years, and as they passed life ceased more and more to have any charm for her. She acted her part with indomitable courage, played at being young when there was hardly any one about her who had not been a child when she was a grown woman, and fought death to the last as if she would by sheer force of will keep him at bay.
After Essex's return in defiance of orders it was evident that he could hope for no further advancement. He could not endure the humiliation, could not acquiesce in a blighted career, though he had only himself to blame, and by his ridiculously abortive attempt at insurrection left the queen no other alternative than to send him to the scaffold. The story of the ring which Essex is said to have sent to the queen after his condemnation, and which was detained by the Countess of Nottingham, is another of those idle and mischievous inventions which have been very widely circulated among the credulous and been repeated by historians [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex]. Essex was beheaded on 25 Feb. 1601. As it had been with the Duke of Norfolk thirty-two years before, so it was now; Elizabeth was reluctant to give Essex to the executioner, but she had scarcely any option; and precisely as it had been at the time of the northern rebellion so was it again ordered that the lives of the nobility and gentry implicated were spared, but immense fines were levied upon them. Unless Chamberlain exaggerated the amounts, the aggregate can have fallen little short of 100,000l. (Chamberlain, Letters, pp. 107-10). It has been said that the queen exhibited signs of grief and remorse at the death of Essex. There is little or no evidence of her taking his death much to heart till long after the execution; and it may be doubted whether she dwelt much upon it at the time. In May she held a splendid chapter of the order of the Garter at Windsor, and the Earl of Derby and Lord Burghley (Sir Robert Cecil's elder brother) were installed knights. During the whole of that summer and autumn she was amusing herself after the old fashion. There are few more graphic pictures of her while giving an audience when she was in good humour than is to be found in Sir William Brown's report of this reception by the queen at Sir William Clarke's house in August (Sydney Papers, ii. 229-30). She certainly was lively enough then. Next month she snatched away the miniature of Cecil from his niece and danced about with it like a skittish schoolgirl [see Cecil, Robert]. During all that year she seems to have been in exuberant spirits, and on 12 Dec. Cecil, in a private letter, rejoices in ‘the happy continuance of her majesty's health and prosperity’ (Cal., Dom. 1601-3, p. 128). It is not till February 1602 that we first hear of her health beginning to fail; when a correspondent of Sir Dudley Carleton expresses his regret at the queen's ‘craziness’ (ib. p. 156). The account which De Beaumont gives of his interview with her in June is quite incredible (Birch, ii. 505). Indeed, De Beaumont's despatches are very untrustworthy, and no dependence can be placed upon his idle gossip when unsupported by corroborative evidence. On 28 April we find her actually dancing with the Duke of Nevers at Richmond; but in August we hear of her again being unwell, though ‘the next day she walked abroad in the park [at Burnham] lest any should take notice of it.’ It was but a passing indisposition, for the week before she had ridden ten miles on horseback, and hunted too (ib. p. 233). More than once during this autumn she was reported as being in good health (Nichols, Progresses, iii. 597, 600), but when Sir John Harrington was admitted to her presence at the end of December he was shocked to see the change in her. During the second week of the new year she caught a bad cold, but shook it off and was well enough to remove to Richmond on 21 Jan. (1603). On 28 Feb. she sickened again, and on 15 March she was alarmingly ill. She rapidly grew worse, refused all medicine, and took little nourishment but declined to go to bed. The lords of the council were sent for and continued in attendance till the end. Archbishop Whitgift performed the last offices of religion. She became speechless and died very quietly on 24 March, her council standing round her and interpreting a sign she made to mean that she wished James VI of Scotland to succeed her on the throne.
Elizabeth was in her seventieth year when she died. She was the first English sovereign who had attained to such an age, though Henry III and Edward III had reigned for a longer time. She was buried with great magnificence in Westminster Abbey on 28 April. James I erected a noble monument over the grave where her remains lie side by side with those of her sister Mary.
In person Elizabeth was a little over middle height, and when she came to the throne she must have been a beautiful young woman, with a profusion of auburn hair, a broad commanding brow, and regular features that were capable of rapid changes of expression as her hazel eyes flashed with anger or sparkled with merriment. Her numerous portraits are all more or less ‘idealised;’ they are all described in Mr. F. M. O'Donoghue's ‘Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of the Portraits of Queen Elizabeth,’ 1894. The most impressive pictures of her which have been engraved are Mark Gerard's portrait at Burleigh House, and that at Ditchley belonging to Viscount Dillon; the former is the frontispiece to Wright's ‘Elizabeth and her Times’ (vol. i.), and the latter to Mr. O'Donoghue's ‘Catalogue’ (it is also reproduced in Lee's Life of Shakespeare, illustrated library edit. 1899, 1908). Queen Elizabeth was emphatically her father's child. From him she got her immense physical vigour, her magnificent constitution, her powerful intellect, a frame which seemed incapable of fatigue, and a nervous system that rendered her almost insensible to fear or pain. Her life was the life of a man, not of a woman; she could hunt all day, dance or watch masques and pageants all night, till the knees of strong men trembled under them as they wearily waited in attendance upon her person; yet she never seemed to suffer from the immense tension at which she lived. With her amazing energy, her want of all sympathy for weakness, her fierce wilfulness and self-assertion, and a certain coarseness of fibre, it was inevitable that she should be unfeminine. She swore, she spat upon a courtier's coat when it did not please her taste, she beat her gentlewomen soundly, she kissed whom she pleased, she gave Essex a good stinging blow on the face, she called the members of her privy council by all sorts of nicknames; but woe to him who should presume to take liberties with her, forget that she was his queen, or dare by word or deed to cross her when she was bent upon any course. The infamous maiming of John Stubbes for writing a pamphlet against the Anjou marriage is a hideous instance of her occasional ferocity; the lifelong imprisonment of the Earl of Arundel illustrates her vindictiveness. Her early education, hard, prosaic, and masculine as it was, must have been conducted with great care. It was a severe training, but there was nothing in it to soften her, to stimulate her imagination, or to refine her tastes. With the Roman poets she appears to have never had any acquaintance. Latin and French she learnt colloquially, and acquired a perfect command of them; her French letters are better compositions than her English ones. Italian she did not speak with ease, and Greek she probably never was much at home in. The few attempts at English verse which she indulged in are worthless. She was a facile performer upon more than one musical instrument, and in 1599 she sent over Thomas Dallam [q.v.] with an organ which she presented to the sultan Mahomet III, and which took the builder more than a year to set up (Addit. MSS. 17480). She had little or no taste for pictorial art, and her passion for dress was barbaric. Her memory was extraordinary. When the ambassador of Sigismund, king of Poland, presented his letters of credence in July 1597, and took occasion to deliver an harangue which provoked her by its impertinence, Elizabeth electrified him and the court by hurling a long speech at him in Latin, rating him roundly for his presumption. It was certainly spoken on the spur of the moment, and when she ended she turned laughingly to her council, half surprised at her own fluency. For literature, as we now understand the term, it is curious that she never appears to have had any taste. Some of Shakespeare's plays were performed in her presence, but she looked upon such matters as pastime¾one show was as good as another. Camden notes that once, shortly after the execution of Mary Stuart, she took to reading books, as if it were quite unusual. When she did turn to study it was only a recurring to the authors she had gone through in her girlhood; she translated Boethius and Sallust. She did not even care for learning or learned men. Camden was almost the only one of them in whom she showed any kindly interest; it is doubtful whether Richard Hooker owed to her even the trumpery country living of Bishopsbourne, Kent, where he died unnoticed in 1600. Spenser she seems never to have cared for; she lived quite outside that splendid intellectual activity which began at the close of her reign. Her parsimony was phenomenal. Her hatred of marriage and her irritation and wrath against any one who dared to take a wife at all secretly was almost a craze. Leicester, Essex, Raleigh, Sir Robert Carey, John Donne, and many another, are instances of those whom she could not forgive for simply marrying on the sly (see Hallam, Const. Hist. vol. i. ch. iv. p. 174). Yet, when all is said that can be said to prove that she had her weaknesses and her faults, it amounts to no more than this, that she was human; and when all deductions have been made that the most captious criticism can collect, her name will go down to posterity as one of the great personages in history, the virgin queen, who by sheer force of character gained for herself the credit of all the grand achievements which her people effected in peace or war, whose name was held in something more than honour from Persia to Peru, from Russia to Algiers, who crushed the tremendous power of Spain, broke for ever the spiritual tyranny of Rome, and lifted England into the first rank among the kingdoms of the world.
The materials for the biography of Elizabeth are very voluminous. Camden's Annals, brought down to the end of 1588, was the first important historical account of the reign, and was published in 1615. It is said to have been undertaken at the suggestion of Lord Burghley. Bishop Francis Godwin's Annales of England are an extension and completion of Camden's, and are at least as valuable. An English translation was published in folio by his son Morgan in 1630. Godwin was an intimate friend of Camden. The earliest life of the queen was that by Gregorio Leti, who appears to have had access to some manuscript sources which have since then disappeared. The original edition was suppressed by authority. A French translation, La Vie d'Elisabeth reine d'Angleterre, was published in 2 vols. 12mo, Amsterdam, 1694. Miss Strickland's Life, with all its shortcomings, is the best personal memoir of the queen. The complementary sketch by Mandell Creighton (1896 and 1899) deals with the queen's career from the political point of view. M. Louis Wiesener's La Jeunesse d'Elisabeth d'Angleterre, 1533-1558 (Paris, 1878; translated into English by C. M. Yonge, 1879), tells the story before she ascended the throne. Mr. Froude's history of the reign to 1588 is indispensable to the historian, though unequal in parts. Queen Elizabeth and her Times, by Thomas Wright, 2 vols. 8vo, 1838, is an attempt to give a picture of the reign from a large number of private letters printed for the first time from the originals in the British Museum and elsewhere. Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth from the year 1581 till her death, by Thomas Birch, D.D., 2 vols. 4to, 1754, are based upon the papers of Anthony Bacon and other original records. This is a work of prime importance for the latter half of the reign. Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, first published in 1694, with the spurious Arcana Aulica professing to be by Sir Francis Walsingham, contains lively sketches and anecdotes, which must be read with caution. The same is true of Sir John Harrington's Brief View. Sir Dudley Digges's Compleat Ambassador, fol. 1655, is the great authority on all that concerns the Anjou marriage (1570-1581). The work was published from papers found in Digges's library after his death. With it should be studied Martin Hume's Courtships of Elizabeth, 1896. For the parliamentary history of the reign D'Ewes's Journals of the Parliaments of Queen Elizabeth is invaluable. Nichols's Progresses illustrate the habits and private life of the queen. The life of Walsingham is the only biography of any of the great statesmen of the reign which is still unwritten [see the sources for these in the volumes of this dictionary under Cecil, Davison, Devereux, Dudley]. Sir Harris Nicolas's Life of Sir Christopher Hatton (1847), Edwards's Life of Sir Walter Ralegh (2 vols. 1868), The Letter-books of Sir Amyas Paulet, Keeper of Mary Queen of Scots, ed. Rev. John Morris, S.J. (1874), deserve to be consulted, as do the many publications bearing upon this reign which have been issued by the Camden Society¾The Letters of Elizabeth and James VI (1849), Walsingham's Chronicle (1875-1877), Machyn's Diary and Manningham's Diary (1848)¾from all of which some scraps of information have been derived. Tytler's England under the Reigns of Edward VI and Mary contains some curious notices of Elizabeth before she came to the throne. The Burghley, Hardwicke, Sadler, Sydney, and other state papers need only be named. Dr. Forbes's Full View of the Public Transactions in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 2 vols. fol. 1740, is an important work, but not of much use to the biographer. Hallam's account of the reign in the Constitutional History is eminently candid and philosophical. Lingard's, though his bias might be supposed to warp his judgment, is a remarkable monument of his critical impartiality, and it may be doubted whether any more succinct and trustworthy history of the time has yet appeared. The Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland, 1509-1603 (2 vols.), is of occasional assistance. Motley's great works on the Revolt of the Netherlands and the Rise of the Dutch Republic are not quite as exhaustive as is generally assumed. For the French wars Martin is the chief authority. For all that concerns the treatment of the Romanists Tierney's edition of Dodd's Church History, with its valuable appendices of original documents and the very careful Introduction to the Douay Diary, by Mr. Knox, may be referred to. See too One Generation of a Norfolk House, by the present writer, where a long list of authorities is given. For ecclesiastical matters in England Strype stands alone, and his volumes must always remain the great storehouse from which we must draw. Useful research of later date appears in W. H. Frere's English in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I (1904; Stephens and Hunt's Hist. of English Church, vol. v.), and in The Elizabethan Religious Settlement, by Henry Norbert Birt, O.S.B. (1907). But it is from the Calendars of State Papers (Domestic, Spanish, and Venetian), and of Lord Salisbury's papers at Hatfield (Historical Manuscripts Commission), vols. i.-xii., that the chief information is to be derived. In the second volume of the Hatfield calendar a large number of the Alençon love-letters are printed in extenso. If the Lansdowne, Cotton, and Harleian MSS. were calendared on the same scale, we should probably have at least another six volumes to consult. The Hist. MSS. Commission has also added to the knowledge of Elizabeth's reign in its Calendar of the Rutland papers at Belvoir (4 vols. 1888-1905)
Contributor: A. J. [Augustus Jessopp]